Cyberspace: An Emerging Security Issue in Global Politics

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Information technology runs the major domains of our lives, such as transport, communications, global markets, and national security. Evidently, IT is essential to our economy and personal lives, eventually affecting every country’s political landscape. Cyberspace provides a vast playground to negative and positive activists. It leads to a complex situation where every nation and government must play an essential role in regulating it through legal and administrative measures.

With a skyrocketing surge in the use of cyberspace, implementing laws to prevent cyber crimes has become inevitable.

Cyberspace: Threats and Motives 

Cyberspace is directly concerned with the general people. However, it eventually attracts political attention to control and regulate an evolving array of cyber-based threats arising from private and state-funded resources.

“The ever-increasing sophistication of cyber-attack techniques and the lack of comprehensive cyber security strategies at the national and international levels have vastly enhanced the nature and magnitude of cyber-attacks.”

Sources of threats have expanded from hackers to terrorists, organization insiders, and foreign nations engaged in cyber espionage and information warfare. Motives have also expanded from monetary gains to political advantage, cyber terrorism, and strategic strength.

Cyberspace Challenges to Nations

A rapid rise in cyber crime and related activities have created several issues for individuals, agencies, the private sector, and, more importantly, for the government of various countries. Cyber crime is a universal phenomenon that touches every nation depending on their internet connectivity or online activities. 

Secure cyberspace is not only essential for individuals but also for national governments.

Many issues are faced by nations today in their attempt to secure cyberspace. 

1. Critical infrastructure: 

One of them is the interconnection of critical infrastructure resources through the internet. National critical infrastructure is the backbone of every economy and is essential for economic prosperity, national data, public health, businesses, and the secure flow of online commerce. Any breach of critical infrastructure resources can prove disastrous for the national economy, defence, emergency services, and people.

2. Lack of legal provisions: 

Another challenge is to control and regulate cyber crime which can cause the loss of important resources and critical data, ultimately affecting national and personal information which can be used or misused by cyber criminals.

It is high time that nations across the globe come together to form an international legal framework to put checks on cyber crimes.

Cyber warfare and cyber terrorism have become the foremost concern of every nation. Due to the borderless nature of cyberspace, cyber terrorism has become the number one priority of every nation to control and regulate. The absence of an international legal framework acceptable to all nations has led to the growth of this issue.

3. Hacking: 

Lack of awareness and understanding in the general public concerning the impact and implications of cyberspace is another challenge for government agencies. Human negligence while operating gazettes using online facilities is a loophole that cyber criminals misuse to exploit the system. The general public at large uses online services provided by the government.

Lack of cyber awareness often makes people victims of cyber crimes irrespective of educational qualifications.

Lack of substantial cyber security measures leads to breaches, data loss, and ultimately loss of credibility and confidence, making people vulnerable to online theft and embarrassing incidents.

4. Cyber Espionage and Cyber Warfare: 

Cyber espionage has caused more damage and risk than physical war among nations. Most valuable information regarding national security stored in computers is always vulnerable to cyber attacks. Nowadays, countries constantly accuse each other of hacking to retrieve economic, military or political secrets to gain strategic strength over their neighbouring countries.

5. Whistleblowing :

Sometimes even independent institutes or groups do hacking to gain prominence and popularity, such as Wiki Leaks which retrieved various secret documents from the national security servers by hacking into them and creating an international diplomatic furore in the US. These disclosures are proof of how national and international institutes, businesses and banks etc., are vulnerable.

Although governments consider whistleblowing a threat, some people consider it a way to fulfil their moral obligations in cyberspace.

It poses a challenge for the respective government to protect such institutions to prevent significant financial and political damage.

6. Social Networking and Privacy: 

This is the most challenging aspect of information technology. The government needs to have access to all the private and personal data of the nation in order to protect it from cyber attacks .Access to all the data available online will somehow encroach upon an individual’s privacy. It is the greatest challenge for the concerned government to be able to protect the data without violating the privacy rights of the general people. Not only those ideas circulated online under the garb of the right to freedom of expression also pose a hurdle for the government to control. 

George Orwell’s famous phrase from his novel ‘1984’, “Big Brother is watching you”, has become a reality with the advancement of technology.

These ideas create social unrest, topple the government, and trigger people to commit violence. The government must have strict legal provisions or censorship against such circulation. However, such provisions should be in balance with people’s fundamental rights. Although administrations frequently modernize their exertions to standardize cyberspace to monitor voice and data traffic flow. There is a continuing discussion on the magnitude of watching required to certify that a person’s right to confidentiality is not crushed by undue interference by the government.

Emerging Cyberspace Security Issues in the Global Order

Mobile users have increased worldwide, creating unimaginable online activities and a new mobile ecosystem. Thus, to fulfil the growing demand, makers are providing cheap and low on security mobile phones, tablets, and other devices to the general public, making it even more difficult for the authorities to regulate cyber intrusion.

According to the latest figures, there are around 6.6 billion smartphone users worldwide.

Every nation has a different set of issues regarding tackling cyber crime. However, one common thing is to have a substantial, comprehensive, and implementable cyber security regime to stop future loss with maximum utility. Cyber crime has crossed boundaries long ago, which makes it challenging for policymakers to formulate such legal provisions having universal acceptance.

Instances of Cyber Security Threats

Cyberspace has been evolving since its inception and at a rapid speed around the globe. Cyber warfare, cyber espionage, and cyber terrorism are a few of the most crucial aspects of cyberspace that made all the countries suddenly worried about preserving their sovereignty at any cost. America is the first country to adopt and implement a cyber security policy. Later this trend was followed by various countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan.

Cyber security is a term that cannot be taken lightly due to its various severe ramification impacting society, political framework, and national security. A few examples made our lawmakers consider this aspect seriously and enact security provisions for the same.

Cyberspace has become borderless.
Beware that you are constantly being watched by a stranger somewhere else on the globe.

At the international level, the most extreme example would be the cyber attack on Estonia in 2007, which literally paralyzed the country’s whole economy, including the stock exchange, banking system and health care.

At the domestic level, in 2012, there was a circulation of information in Bangalore targeting a community in a bid to disturb the communal harmony of the region. The circulation aimed to force the community to leave the city within a stated date. There were also threats of dire consequences if they did not comply with the demands. Offenders used social media and mobile phones to fulfil their evil plans, and the impact was such that on 15 August 2012, there were hundreds of people who thronged the Bangalore railway stations in order to leave the city to avoid any mishap from the communal violence that might ensue.

Ironically, carrying a smartphone has become like carrying a weapon.

Conclusion

Cyber security has a global character. For the most part, it hinders and obliterates the basic foundation far away from the spot of the offence. Now and then, it might be in a similar nation or some other nation. In this way, it is desperate need of great importance that functioning participation is required worldwide for making arrangements and normal projects. All the countries in the 21st century have considered the cyber risk and begun to receive strategies to address the new difficulties in the borderless world.

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Exposed: Understanding the breaches in India’s cybersecurity during Covid-19

About the Author

Anwar Shahid P M

Anwar Shahid is an Academic professional in International Relations and Political Science with a broad knowledge of Research and Analytical Skills. He is currently working as an Assistant Professor in Political Science at Beja Model College of Arts and Science, Nettanige, Kasaragod, Kerala. He has keen interest in the areas of International Cyber Security, Contemporary International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Diplomacy and Indian Politics.

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