China & India In Cyber Conflict

India and China have tried to peacefully share thousands of miles of border amidst the world’s most inhospitable terrain, nestled in the Himalayan mountain range. The last military war between the two countries was in 1962, and resulted in parts of the border being declared 'in dispute' with a mutually recognised “Line of Actual Control” agreed.  

But relations between the two have deteriorated significantly in recent years and diplomacy and economic factors have been effective in preventing a repeat full-blown war. Today, cyber operations provide both countries with a potent asymmetric capability to conduct cyber surveillance and espionage.

Now "the impact of a cyber attack targeting the critical infrastructure of a country, whether for espionage or malicious activity, has the potential to be catastrophic with long-term repercussions”, says Dr. Christopher Ahlberg, CEO of Recorded Future. “We have long seen cyber efforts from China aimed around strategic policies and initiatives, and this campaign from RedEcho is no exception. Accurate and actionable intelligence is vital for preempting such attacks and proactively disrupting adversaries both within an organisation and across a nation," he added.

China is more and more dependent on information networks in all industrial aspects, including defence. Although it has a large-scale technology industry and possesses the potential to compete with the US in some, most of its core network technologies and key software and hardware are provided by US companies, whereas India’s capacity is home grown. 

Using a combination of proactive adversary infrastructure detections, domain and traffic analysis, Recorded Future’s threat research experts, the Insikt Group, has determined that a subset of the servers used share some common infrastructure tactics, techniques, and procedures with several previously reported Chinese state-sponsored groups.

Insikt Group is attributing this activity to a threat group known as RedEcho, though to be targeting 10 distinct Indian organisations in the power generation and transmission sector and two organisations in the maritime sector. Insikt Group believes the targeting of these organisations poses significant concerns over potential pre-positioning of network access to support Chinese strategic objectives.

The computer network operations targeting of strategically important organisations in India from Chinese groups will likely continue in 2021 as the nation continues to exert influence over countries that are within the sphere of their Belt and Road Initiative investment program.

The next steps for India are to have the targeted entities and those organisations with responsibility for protecting India’s national infrastructure, Indian CERT, Ministry of Power and the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) conduct a thorough cyber analysis and develop a future strategy. 

Recorded Future:      PR Newswire:     Security Boulevard:   The Wire:    Sunday Guardian:

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