The Institute of Contemporary Studies Bangalore (ICSB), Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S) and the Press Institute of India (PII) jointly hosted in October a two-day virtual conference titled Deciphering China: Cyber Security and Securing India. The conference was the second of a four-part series. One aspect that has assumed great importance in recent years is Cyber Security, which affects the public and the private sector and spans a broad range of issues related to national security, whether through terrorism, crime, or state and industrial espionage. Cyber threats are designed to attack and bring down critical infrastructure and installations, and include surveillance and sophisticated offensive attacks. The webinar sought to disseminate information about current Chinese capacity and capability in the cyber space and the threats and challenges they posed to India. The objective was also to examine India’s current stature and its response to threats from China and its allies against critical information infrastructure. The webinar assumed significance, coming as it did during National Cyber Security Awareness Month (October). The webinar was specially targeted at journalists from the print, television and electronic media, students of journalism and international relations, research scholars and subject specialists. Speakers had expertise in cyber security and had played important and critical roles in various capacities, centered on India’s national security.
National Cyber Security Advisor Lt General Rajesh Pant delivered the keynote address. Pratap Heblikar, managing trustee, ICSB, chaired the opening session titled India’s Cyber Security Management. Speakers included Rear Admiral Sanjeev Kale, proprietor, Advait PFS, LLP, Baroda; Pavithran Rajan, advisor, Cyber Peace Foundation, Bangalore; Namrata Biji Ahuja, senior special correspondent, The Week, New Delhi; and Anuradha Rao, founder, Cyber Cognizanz, Singapore. The highlight of the conference was a table-top exercise conducted by Suresh Bulusu, co-Founder, Smart Transformations; and Samir Aksekar, founder director, Cyberwis; and Munjal Shroff, co-founder, Graphiti Studio.
On Day 2, Shroff chaired a session on Cyber Security Threats and Challenges. Speakers were Prof V. Kamakoti, director, Computer Science & Engineering, IIT-Madras, Pavithran Rajan, Namrata Biji Ahuja, and Commander L.R. Prakash, director, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Chennai. Cmde R.S. Vasan, director, C3S, and regional director, National Maritime Foundation (TN), chaired a session called China and Information Warfare. Speakers were C. Balasubramanian, research officer, C3S (Information Warfare – Deep Fakes & Misinformation), A.S. Panneerselvan, readers’ editor, The Hindu (How should the media handle fake news?), and Namrata Biji Ahuja (What are the threats from misinformation warfare?). The programme ended with a panel discussion titled Strengthening India’s Cyber Security Landscape, chaired by Suresh Bulusu. Commander L.R. Prakash, Samir Aksekar and Rinka Singh, Co-founder, Accelerate Fire, Bangalore, participated. While Sashi Nair, director, PII, welcomed on both days at the start, P.M. Heblikar, proposed the vote of thanks in the end.