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IISS report on India as a cyber power


According to a new report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) India has made only modest progress in developing its policy and doctrine for cyberspace security despite the geostrategic instability of its region and a keen awareness of the cyber threat it faces.


GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Cyber Security, Internal security challenges through communication networks, Role of media and social-networking sites in internal security challenges)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the report by IISS
  2. Highlights of the IISS Study

Click Here to read more about Cyber Attack and Cyber Security, Challenges of Cyber Security in India and Measures taken

About the report by IISS

  • The report has done a qualitative assessment of cyber power in 15 countries. The 15 countries considered are:
    • Four members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance – the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia and three cyber-capable allies of the Five Eyes states – France, Israel and Japan.
    • Four states at earlier stages in their cyber power development – India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.
    • Four countries viewed by the Five Eyes and their allies as cyber threats – China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.
  • The methodology analyses the cyber ecosystem of each state and how it intersects with international security, economic competition and military affairs. The countries are assessed in seven categories:
    1. Strategy and doctrine
    2. Governance, command and control
    3. Core cyber-intelligence capability
    4. Cyber empowerment and dependence
    5. Cyber security and resilience
    6. Global leadership in cyberspace affairs
    7. Offensive cyber capability
  • The report has divided the 15 states into three tiers of cyber power:
    1. First Tier: States with world-leading strengths across all the categories in the methodology. The United States of America is the only country in this tier.
    2. Second Tier: States that have world-leading strengths in some of the categories. Australia, Canada, China, France, Israel, Russia and the United Kingdom are in this tier.
    3. Third Tier: States that have strengths or potential strengths in some of the categories but significant weaknesses in others. India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, North Korea and Vietnam are in this tier.

Highlights of the IISS Study

On U.S. vs China

  • In advanced cyber technologies and their exploitation for economic and military power, the US is still ahead of China.
  • Since 2018, the US and several of its leading allies have agreed to restrict China’s access to some Western technologies – By doing so, these countries have endorsed a partial decoupling of the West and China that could potentially impede the latter’s ability to develop its own advanced technology.
  • Thus, US digital-industrial superiority is likely to last for at least the next ten years.

On India

  • India has made only “modest progress” in developing its policy and doctrine for cyberspace security despite the geo-strategic instability of its region and a keen awareness of the cyber threat it faces.
  • The military confrontation with China in the disputed Ladakh border area in June 2020, followed by a sharp increase in Chinese activity against Indian networks, has heightened Indian concerns about cyber security, not least in systems supplied by China.
  • India has some cyber-intelligence and offensive cyber capabilities but they are regionally focused, principally on Pakistan.
  • India’s approach towards institutional reform of cyber governance has been “slow and incremental”, with key coordinating authorities for cyber security in the civil and military domains established only as late as 2018 and 2019 respectively.
  • The strengths of the Indian digital economy include a vibrant start-up culture and a very large talent pool. The private sector has moved more quickly than the government in promoting national cyber security.
  • The country is active and visible in cyber diplomacy but has not been among the leaders on global norms, preferring instead to make productive practical arrangements with key states. India is currently aiming to compensate for its weaknesses by building new capability with the help of key international partners – including the US, the UK and France – and by looking to concerted international action to develop norms of restraint.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024