Video The highest-ranked officer in India’s armed forces has admitted that China has cyber-war capabilities that can overwhelm his nation’s defenses and suggested that only cross-forces collaboration will get India to parity with its giant neighbor.
General Bipin Rawat, a four-star general and since 2020 the first to hold a new role of chief of defense staff, offered that assessment yesterday in a talk hosted by Indian think tank the Vivekananda International Foundation.
Asked about capability gaps between India and China, general Rawat admitted India is behind China in several military fields, then added: “The biggest differential lies in the field of cyber.”
“We know that china is capable of launching cyber-attacks against us and disrupt a large number of systems.”
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The general said he thinks India can eventually match China if its Navy, Army, and Air Force collaborate. The Navy, he added, clearly possesses superior capability.
India’s armed forces have already created a joint cyber-defense agency, and Rawat said all teams’ focus is swift recovery from attacks, “to ensure that even if we come under a cyber-attack, the downtime and the effect of the attack does not last long.”
That position is appropriate, he said, because he believes China will defeat India’s current electronic defenses.
“We are quite sure [China] will be able to break through the firewalls,” he said. “But then what we are trying to do is how long will your system be down, and how will you be able to operate through that phase of cyber-attack. That is one thing we are looking at and addressing in a serious manner,” he said.
The general added that India has contacted allies around the world to help it marshal stronger defenses, and perhaps-ominously said peacetime is the perfect moment for such efforts.
He didn’t say what India considers a suitable recovery time objective, or when it expects to be at parity with China. Which leaves the Middle Kingdom’s leadership with some mysteries to solve even as a frenemy admitted it could be p0wned at a moment of Beijing’s choosing. ®