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India seeks U.S. help to improve its defense infrastructure that is vulnerable to China-backed cyber attacks. In 2020, India suffered a cyberattack on its power structure shutting down Mumbai. Earlier this year, Chinese hackers found “vulnerabilities in the IT infrastructure and supply chain software of Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.”
India’s Chief of Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat, said “We may not be able to fully catch up with China therefore we are trying to develop a relationship with Western nations to see how best we can get support from them during peace time, at least, to overcome these deficiencies.”
According to The New York Times, researchers found that Chinese hackers are funded by the Communist Party and go by the name Red Echo.
China has already been denounced for attacking and stealing intellectual property to gain competitive advantages in the technology and pharmaceutical fields.
India is key to containing China
India’s cybersecurity is key for the U.S. to combat China. The Biden administration, along with Japan and Australia, teamed up with India to produce more than one billion vaccines to combat COVID-19.
India is also key to supporting Taiwan in providing vaccines to allied countries such as Paraguay or neighbors such as Mongolia and Nepal. For America, India represents a strong arm to fight China, due to its pharmaceutical and technological advances and robust population, being the largest democracy in Asia.
Relations between India and China cooled after border clashes in May 2020 that claimed the lives of at least 20 Indian soldiers in the first fighting in 45 years between the world’s two most populous nations.
The economic ties between the two giants are decisive in preventing a deeper war conflict, but in the cyber field, the skills of Chinese hackers give them a potent ability to conduct espionage or position themselves within networks for illicit and coercive activities.
The American firm Recorded Future revealed that “a subset of the servers used share some common tactics, techniques, and infrastructure procedures (TTPs) with various Chinese state-sponsored groups.”
According to Recorded Future the Chinese hacking group, RedEcho targeted the energy sector and two Indian seaports. The vulnerability of India’s cyber protection system puts the country at risk of an immediate response to a Chinese military attack or exposes pharmaceutical intellectual property as the two countries compete in the diplomatic war over vaccines.
American allies in China’s crosshairs
“The US must stand by our strategic partner and condemn China’s dangerous cyber-attack on India’s grid, which forced hospitals to go on generators in the midst of a pandemic,” said Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
Other American allies have been targeted by Chinese hackers. Companies in South Korea and Taiwan discovered flaws in their systems because of the work of these groups.
The Chinese message is clear on all fronts, the Communist Party is determined to impose dictatorial values and subjugate U.S. democracies and allies.
While Beijing on the one hand engages in transparent business transactions and claims to advocate free trade, on the other hand, it profits from intellectual property theft and seeks to pressure countries like India by threatening their financial, energy and hospital systems with cyber attacks.
Camilo Bello is a consultant focused on Asia Pacific studies and has experience in strategic management. He has studied law in Colombia and is currently pursuing studies in language and history at National Taiwan Normal University. He has collaborated with Students for Freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan // Camilo es consultor enfocado en estudios de Asia Pacífico y experiencia en gestión estratégica. Cuenta con estudios en Derecho en Colombia y actualmente se encuentra realizando estudios en lenguaje e historia en National Taiwan Normal University. Colaborador de Estudiantes por la Libertad en Hong Kong y Taiwán