Hybrid Warfare and Cyber Insecurity

12:01 AM | 9 Jun, 2020
Hybrid Warfare and Cyber Insecurity
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Long burgeoning impact of Information Technology has almost transformed the world community into a global village and the Fourth Industrial revolution is imminent to evolve our lives into the age of more sophisticated gadgets and media. Due to the immense use of smart devices and indulgence in social media, IoT (internet of things) has become one of the most essential modalities for modern-day life. Entrepreneurs, News, fashion, and industry everything seeking priority to attract the social community. Therefore, where the evolution of information technology has opened up a horizon for multiple opportunities, it has also exposed the users to the hazards of cyber technology. 

            Similarly, globalization has changed the means of modern warfare. The Fourth Industrial Revolution and IoT have introduced new battlefields ‘The Cyber Space ‘for fighting the war of narratives and psychological warfare. According to a famous Russian ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’, this is the grey zone where an enemy can be defeated psychologically before entering into an armed contest. Exactly, today social media has become one of the most active battlefields. It is one of the most powerful tools to inculcate a narrative into the perceptions of scores of users. It has the ability to manipulate zealot youth through propaganda and fallacy unless they psychologically surrender to ‘identity crises’. It has a very effective medium to launch a campaign for vile against a target, it might be an individual, an institution, or a state itself.

            However, the State of Pakistan and its national institutions are onslaughts through very sophisticated social engineering techniques. Fake accounts of Facebook, pages, and Twitter accounts carrying a comprehensive campaign in the name of rebel liberation forces, nationalist movements, political, radical liberal activists, and feminists to endorse their narrative among the public and defile the state institutions. Experience of having a close encounter with such elements reveals that these kinds of accounts are backed by a clandestine team of cyber attackers, who can suddenly attack an account by Phishing, Eavesdropping, Sniffing, or snooping and stealing your cookies (XSS). These kinds of cyber strikes are very common and dangerous. Most users, who don’t have adequate knowledge about this tech can become a very mild target. They can pursue your cyber activities even if you are having a very sane patriotic narrative on social media.

            So that, issues regarding cybersecurity in Pakistan are really appalling. The bulk of social media users, android vulnerabilities, lacking technical expertise and inadequate acumen to deal with brainwash tactics can be overcome if an expert team of cyber guards is developed for cyber-surveillance and security, privileged with countermeasures.    

In this context, we should emulate our brethren neighbor country the People Republic of China who has provided cybercrimes under the section of “Crimes of Disturbing Public Order “- Cyber Security 2020 cybersecurity law and regulation of China. Backed by Cyber-Police which is part of the internet crime division, Ministry of industry and information technology. They have been equipped with hi-tech facilities to counter cybercriminals. Similarly, India has also developed a hi-tech cybercrime inquiry cell for Kerala Police and Cybercrime Investigation Cell in Mumbai which is functioning under Mumbai Police. 

In a similar vein, the Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency has introduced the Cyber Crime Act which has many stringent provisions against cybercrimes. But, law and code of conduct cannot be endorsed effectively without an effective cybersecurity apparatus.  Ironically, Indian PM Modi and American President Donald Trump have almost considered the significance of Cyber Security and seem willing to include cybersecurity into national security policy. Therefore, it is high time for the Pakistani leadership and defense authorities to take immediate steps for the formulation of the National Cyber Security Policy. Unless hazards of this hybrid warfare waged by unknown, faceless enemies can generate consequences beyond uncontrollable dimensions, and our naïve youth can plunge into a psychological trap and protect the social order of the country from chaos and confusion.

The writer has done a master's degree in Software Engineering and has a keen interest in Peace & Conflict Studies.