by Ajit Kumar Dubey

An Army officer and Kargil hero is now winning wars on the virtual battlefield. He recently foiled attempts by suspected Chinese and Pakistani hackers to break into his system, which prevented critical information from being compromised.

The officer discovered that the cyber attackers were trying to access his passwords after which he took steps to throttle their efforts.

If the hackers had managed to break in, they could have stolen sensitive material, sources in the Army told Mail Today.

It is suspected that the foiled attacks were launched by hackers from China and Pakistan who have been quite active over the past few years, targeting Indian military officers and networks.

The officer had taken part in the Kargil war and was awarded a gallantry medal for his valiant actions against Pakistani intruders who had taken over Indian posts located on higher peaks that are traditionally vacated in winter months to protect troops from harsh cold.

Experts say hackers and even nation states are increasingly using cyber attacks to knock out electrical grids, disable domestic airline networks, jam Internet connectivity, erase money from bank accounts and confuse radar systems across the world.

In recent times, groups backed by Chinese and Pakistani authorities have been trying to break into the networks of Indian defence forces to extract information.

Along with fighting against Pakistan in Kargil, the officer also has significant exposure of operations along the Line of Actual Control with China.

The cyber attacks come at a time of simmering tensions at the border with both Pakistan and China. While Pakistani forces have been resorting to frequent ceasefire violations, the Chinese are involved in a war of words with India over the Doklam plateau row.

Hackers have in recent times made several attempts to break into military networks but the forces and officers have helped thwart a majority of them by following the laid-down procedures.

In April last year, the Army Cyber Group had uncovered a coordinated effort to hack into the computers of its senior officers with decoy emails that purportedly contained links of “their sex videos”.

At least four officers of lieutenant general-rank posted at South Block headquarters were the target of the malicious bid. In an effort to enhance its combat capabilities in the virtual domain, the defence ministry is working towards establishing a new cyber agency to tackle attacks by Chinese and Pakistani hackers.

To test its capabilities, the new agency has also carried out its first cyber warfare exercise under which Indian forces hit their own networks to check for loopholes and steps required to strengthen the system, sources informed.

After a few incidents of virtual honey-trapping by Pakistani agents, the Army has been on an overdrive to educate its personnel to guard against such attacks.

One example of this is evident in calling an official Army telephone number, which plays a recorded message about the need to be careful from foreign agents who have been trying to extract information by all means.