Amid growing attacks by Chinese hackers, Quad launches cybersecurity initiative

The Quad Cyber Challenge is also likely to see the participation of the users of the Internet in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond
Last Updated : 08 February 2023, 16:47 IST

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With its critical cyber infrastructure coming under increasing attacks from hackers linked to China, India has now joined its partners in the Quad – Australia, Japan and the United States – in launching a campaign to raise awareness in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond about the threats on the Internet.

The Quad is set to launch a public campaign to improve cyber security across India, Australia, Japan and the United States. The Quad Cyber Challenge is also likely to see the participation of the users of the Internet in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. The participants are expected to pledge to practice safe and responsible cyber habits.

“The challenge reflects our continuing Quad efforts to strengthen individuals’ and communities’ cyber security awareness and action, as well as to foster a more secure and resilient cyber ecosystem to benefit economies and users everywhere,” according to a joint statement issued by the governments of the four nations.

The Quad, which was originally conceived in 2007, was re-launched by India, Japan, Australia and the United States in 2017 to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region. It was elevated to the level of the leaders in 2021. India, however, resisted the US attempt to turn it into a security alliance overtly adversarial to China. The four-nation coalition thus continued with its benign agenda to counter Beijing’s bid to spread its influence in the Indo-Pacific, like development partnerships and cooperation in education and healthcare.

The Quad Cyber Challenge is going to be the first major initiative by the bloc to respond to increasing online attacks by hackers linked to China, targeting critical infrastructures of several nations, including India.

Five servers of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on November 23, 2022, came under cyberattack disrupting services for almost a fortnight. The cyberattack purportedly originated in China. More than 6,000 unsuccessful attacks on the ICMR website in just 24 hours on November 30, 2022, from an IP address in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China. India’s healthcare industry has faced about 1.9 million cyberattacks from January 1 till November 28, 2022, according to CyberPeace Foundation and Autobot Infosec Private Ltd. The attacks originated in Pakistan, China, and Vietnam.

The Recorded Future, US, reported in April 2022 that at least seven State Load Dispatch Centres (SLDCs) of India were targeted by China’s TAG-38 group of hackers. The government confirmed two unsuccessful cyberattacks on electricity distribution centres near Ladakh – not very far from the India-China military stand-off.

A Quad joint statement issued on Tuesday said that internet users worldwide were targets of cybercrime and other malicious cyber threats that could cost trillions of dollars each year and compromise sensitive, personal data. Many cyber attacks could be guarded against by simple preventive measures, it noted, adding: “Together, Internet users and providers can take small steps to significantly improve cybersecurity and cyber safety. These steps include routinely installing security updates, enabling enhanced identity checks through multi-factor authentication, utilizing stronger and regularly changing passphrases, and knowing how to identify common online scams, like phishing.”

The Quad Cyber Challenge will provide resources, such as basic cybersecurity information and training, for all users – from corporations to educational institutions, small businesses, and individuals from grade school students to the elderly, and will culminate in events during the week of April 10. The Quad stated that the four nations were working to ensure everyone had access to the resources needed to make informed decisions while online and using smart devices.

Published 08 February 2023, 16:47 IST

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