EDT, also known as fourth-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, biotechnologies, and quantum technologies, are propelling the fourth industrial revolution. These emerging technologies have the potential to revolutionize social and economic aspects of life.
However, their development trajectories are uncertain and require longer time horizons for maturity.
While EDTs are expected to contribute to human well-being, they also present various security risks, particularly when used by state and non-state actors.
These risks include:
- Misinformation: EDTs can be utilized to spread fake news, directly impacting peace, stability, and law and order within a country. For instance, technologies like deep learning and neural networks can create deep fakes, contributing to the dissemination of false information.
- Impact on democratic processes: Fourth-generation technologies, such as AI and big data, can be employed by state and non-state actors to influence democratic outcomes by manipulating voters’ behaviour during elections. This issue gained prominence during the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
- Threat to privacy: EDTs can be employed to extract citizens’ data and compromise their digital privacy. State and non-state actors can use these technologies to conduct widespread phishing attacks, eroding public trust in the state’s ability to provide security and safety. The SolarWinds hacks in the USA serve as an example.
- Security risks: State actors can employ EDTs, including autonomous bots, to threaten the security of digital and critical infrastructure. The increasing use of the Internet of Things (IoT) also amplifies vulnerabilities to such attacks. An instance of this is the DTrack RAT virus that infected the “stand-alone” network of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
- Radicalization of youth: EDTs can be utilized to target and radicalize the youth of a country. Technologies such as big data, deepfakes, and AI can be exploited for this purpose.
- Emerging threat of autonomous weapon systems: Several state actors are developing autonomous weapon systems that leverage EDTs to disrupt the cyber infrastructure and capabilities of enemy states.
Considering the likelihood of future conflicts incorporating a cyber-dimension, it is crucial for India to enhance its capacity to protect its citizens and digital infrastructure. The Indian government has implemented various measures, including the establishment of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) as the national agency for cybersecurity, the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) to safeguard critical information, and the appointment of Chief Information Security Officers.
These initiatives aim to safeguard internal security and ensure stability within India.