By Venkata Satish Guttula: The phrase “Why reinvent the wheel?” has often been used to question the necessity of creating something from scratch when an adequate solution already exists. However, when it comes to national security and cybersecurity, sometimes reinventing the wheel is not just an option – it’s a necessity.
The GPS Lesson
The US Global Positioning System (GPS) is a testament to this. While it is undeniably one of the most sophisticated and widely used systems globally, its accessibility remains at the discretion of the US government. The 1999 Kargil war incident, where the US denied GPS data access to India, showcases the vulnerabilities countries expose themselves to when reliant on foreign technologies. This incident spurred India to develop its indigenous GPS, NavIC. One could argue it’s another wheel, but for India, it’s a wheel they control.
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Dependence on External Communication Platforms
Fast forward to today, where we are heavily reliant on digital communication. A top official noted that agencies were using platforms like WhatsApp and Gmail to convey critical and time-sensitive information. The convenience of these platforms cannot be denied, but neither can the inherent risks. If a nation’s security depends on platforms outside its jurisdiction, there’s potential for access denial, data breaches, or even espionage. More alarmingly, in the event of a cyber attack, if these platforms are disabled, especially since they are controlled by other countries, it could leave us without a reliable means to communicate. This could hinder timely and effective countermeasures, exacerbating the impact of the attack. It’s like building your fortress but handing the keys to someone else.
Network Devices and Potential Backdoors
A significant concern in the cybersecurity landscape is importing network devices believed to have embedded backdoors. These concealed entry points can be a nightmare during cyberattacks, potentially allowing adversaries to disable systems and cripple networks. Given the economy’s reliance on the internet, downtime isn’t just inconvenient; it’s catastrophic. Therefore, it becomes imperative to manufacture these devices domestically, ensuring security from the ground up.
The Limitations of Imported Forensic Tools and Methodologies
The forensic tools and methodologies we adopt, often borrowed from other countries, may not be wholly suited to our unique challenges. The modus operandi of cybercriminals can vary significantly based on regional factors, cultural nuances, and local technologies. While international guidance is valuable, it cannot be the sole blueprint. Like many nations, India requires a customized framework and methodology for addressing and solving cybercrimes that align with its distinct landscape. Furthermore, the pressing need for an indigenous cybercrime investigation framework becomes evident, ensuring that investigations are more streamlined efficient, and resonate with the nuances of the local digital ecosystem.
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Need for Indigenous Cybersecurity Frameworks
Relying on international cybersecurity frameworks might not always align with a country’s specific needs and challenges. Just as India is shaping its privacy laws to cater to its unique socio-political landscape, there’s a pressing need to develop indigenous cybersecurity frameworks. These can be more agile, responsive, and tailor-made, reducing dependence on foreign entities to enact amendments that resonate with our requirements.
The Argument for “Reinventing the Wheel”
In the realm of national security:
- Control: Having indigenous solutions gives a country complete control over its tools, data, and access.
- Data Sovereignty: Ensuring that data remains within national boundaries is crucial. It not only complies with data protection laws but also reduces the risk of foreign surveillance and potential data misuse.
- Customization: Homegrown solutions can be tailored to address specific threats and challenges unique to the region or country.
- Redundancy: Even if global tools are in use, having a backup developed in-house ensures continuity in emergencies.
- Economic Growth: Investing in domestic cybersecurity solutions can spur innovation, create jobs, and boost the tech industry.
The digital era has made the world more connected than ever. But with this interconnectivity comes a web of dependencies. For matters as critical as national security and cybersecurity, relying solely on external solutions is a gamble. Sometimes, “reinventing the wheel” is less about redundancy and more about safeguarding a nation’s interests in an unpredictable digital world. So, the next time someone asks, “Why reinvent the wheel?” – the answer might just be, “Because it’s our wheel.”
About Author: Venkata Satish Guttula is a Cyber Security Consultant.