Nepal | August 07, 2020

Cyber warfare: How prepared is Nepal?

Nitesh Bhatta
Share Now:

Previous attacks could be of great help to predict future attacks and patterns of attacks. We can expect satellites, naval forces, aircraft, missiles and rockets being hacked and exploited to cause severe damage to the global economy and infrastructure

The proliferation of internet usage in the recent years has changed the way we interact daily.

Right from the usage of e-Commerce, online banking, social networking sites up to connecting every single device like the Internet of things – IOT — i.e. toasters, refrigerators, televisions, temperature controls, home automation systems, nuclear power station to the Internet and controlling them from any end point of the globe have been developed.

After land, sea, air and space, warfare has entered the fifth domain: cyberspace.

Back in the old days, war was fought either from land, sea, air, and space with guns, ammunition, fighter jets, missiles, but now an individual or even a group of individuals can wage a war with just a use of computers and working Internet connection, right from their bed while taking a sip of tea and in pajamas.

So, cyber warfare is the art and science of fighting without fighting; defeating an opponent without spilling their blood. In other words, cyber war refers to the action by a nation-state, to penetrate other nations’ computers and networks for the purpose of causing damage or disruption.

These days almost all the nations are fully dependent on the Internet for storage and transference of information and information in this era has become a critical part of daily operations.

What we say, what we do, what we share, what we plan are very critical information we hold as an individual or as a nation overall, and this information could be used against us.

The Internet was not originally designed with security in mind, but as an open system to allow scientists and researchers to send data to one another quickly. Without strong investments in cyber security and cyber defenses, data systems remain open and susceptible to rudimentary and dangerous forms of exploitation and attack.

Back in the old days (the late 80’s and early 90’s), hackers used to break into systems for fun and with motive of learning new things. Robert Tappan Morris, a Cornell University graduate student who released the most notable internet worm also known as ‘Morris worm’ on November of 1988, was where the people started noticing the ability and potential of the Internet.

Nepal is also extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks and is encountering a high number of malware attacks on a daily basis. The Asia Pacific region is especially vulnerable with emerging markets most at risk of malware threats.

Nepal has also become a target and being exploited by cyber criminals and state sponsored hackers. Previously, Naikon also known as APT-30 (Advanced Persistent Threat) group, has targeted military, government and civil organizations and exploited them.

Carbanak, an APT style attack, also resulted in financial loss for Nepal and almost thirty other countries. These types of attacks are growing rapidly although Nepal has not developed much in terms of technology.

Although Nepal has Information Technology Security Emergency Response Team (ITSERT-NP) it does not actively participate in research and development nor do they participate in active intelligence gathering and learning about new threats and spreading awareness.

Technical personnel capable of defending the national level infrastructure are extremely limited and are always outnumbered by start-up hackers. Lack of training, resource, materials and especially security awareness seem to be the problem in Nepal.

The first phase should be divided into learning defensive tactics and then gradually developing offensive techniques and eventually building up an elite cyber task force for national defense of information and security of Nepal.

During 2014-2015 Nepal was highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks since the national infrastructure almost collapsed because of the massive earthquake, and as a result, thousands of websites and servers, including servers from government, military and private servers, were victims of huge cyber-attacks and cyber vandalism.

The main reason Nepal became a target of cyber attackers was because of the chaos and dilemma caused by the earthquake. Most of the websites are built by people who have little or no knowledge about security and on top of that the websites are built for small amounts ranging from a minimum of five thousand to fifty thousand rupees.

Until and unless the gap between developers and security people are bridged, cyber-attacks will continue and will be a big curse for Nepalese economy and national infrastructure.

There is no such thing as hack-proof security but still adding an extra layer of security and using the concept of defense in depth will make attackers put in more effort, time and resource.

No matter how deep the defense is or how hard you are trained to defend, an attacker will always find a way inside and eventually break into the systems, but that does not mean to do nothing. We can never predict a cyber-war until we start one.

Previous attacks could be of great help to predict future attacks and patterns of attacks. We can expect satellites, naval forces, aircraft, missiles and rockets being hacked and exploited to cause severe damage to the global economy and infrastructure.

If we do not prepare now for cyber warfare, develop threat intelligence and prepare defensively then it could raise massive threats.


A version of this article appears in print on January 05, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Cabals and Cartels: Book launched in socially-distanced event

KATHMANDU: Rajib Upadhya, a formal journalist and longtime development professional, has come out with a book that argues that the cabals and the cartels, the dark underbelly of the transitioning Nepal, will hollow out every prospect for the change that we are still pining for if they are left to th Read More...

'Rely on God' - a prescription for India's poor in pandemic

NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: With scant supplies and underpaid staff, one of India's poorest states is scrambling to prevent a "blast" in coronavirus cases that medics say could cripple its precarious health system. The pandemic has already overwhelmed the medical network in the eastern state of Bihar, wh Read More...

Pavlyuchenkova opts out of US Open due to COVID-19 'insecurity'

NEW YORK: Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova said on Wednesday that she will not travel to New York to take part in the US Open later this month as organisers could not guarantee her health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The US Open is set to be played from Aug. 31-Sept. 12 even as the cou Read More...

Writ filed at Supreme Court demanding 'Enough is Enough' campaigners not be detained

KATHMANDU: A writ of mandamus has been filed in Supreme Court today demanding an order not to detain the protesters of ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign and passers-by. First date of hearing for the interim order, which seeks that people protesting peacefully not be detained, is set for tomorrow. Read More...

Sevilla, Leverkusen cruise into Europa League quarter-finals

Five-times winners Sevilla made light work of AS Roma when first half goals from Sergio Reguilon and Youssef En-Nesyri gave them a 2-0 win over AS Roma and sent them into the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday. Sevilla's win, in a tie reduced to a single match played in Duisberg, Ge Read More...

Mexico, coronavirus outbreak;

Mexico's coronavirus death toll tops 50,000

MEXICO CITY: Mexico's health ministry on Thursday reported 6,590 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 819 fatalities, bringing the country's totals to 462,690 cases and 50,517 deaths. The virus is spreading quickly; just over two weeks ago, the health ministry reported 40,000 deaths. M Read More...

University of Washington forecasts 300,000 US COVID-19 deaths

WASHINGTON: Nearly 300,000 Americans could be dead from COVID-19 by Dec. 1, University of Washington health experts forecast on Thursday, although they said 70,000 lives could be saved if people were scrupulous about wearing masks. The prediction by the university's widely cited Institute for Read More...