Protecting India’s cyberspace from quantum techniques

Protecting India’s cyberspace from quantum techniques

Cryptography-Protecting India’s Cyberspace from Quantum Techniques

Details on the topic “Protecting India’s Cyberspace from Quantum Techniques”

Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.

 Mains: GS  III: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Context :

  • Based on the article written by Arjun Gargeyas and Sameer Patil “Protecting India’s cyberspace from quantum techniques”  on The Indian Express

What is Cryptography?

  • Cryptography is the art and science of converting ordinary plain text into unintelligible text and vice-versa.
  • In this method, the data is sorted and transmitted in a particular way, so that the person for whom it is intended can read and process it. 
  • Cryptography not only protects data from theft or alteration but can also be used for user authentication.
  • It can ensure the confidentiality and integrity of both data in transit as well as data at rest.
  • It can also authenticate senders and recipients to one another and protect against repudiation.
  • In the present day, it is mainly based on mathematical theory and Computer science practice, but prior to this cryptography was another of encryption
  • Modern cryptography involves with:
  • Confidentiality –

No one can acknowledge the information

  • Integrity –

 Information cannot be changed.

  • Non-repudiation –

The sender cannot deny their  intentions in the transmission of the information at a later stage

  • Authentication

 The sender and receiver can confirm each

  • The science of Cryptography is used in various applications such as banking transactions cards, computer passwords, and e-commerce transactions.

The types of cryptographic techniques used in general.

  • 1. Symmetric-key cryptography
  • 2. Hash functions.
  • 3. Public-key cryptography

Symmetric-key Cryptography:

  • A single is shared between the sender and the user.
  • The key used by the sender is to encrypt plain text and send the coded text to the receiver.
  • On the other side, the receiver uses the same key to decode the encrypted message and recover the plain text.

Public-Key Cryptography:

  • In the last 300-400 years, this is the most inventive idea.
  • In this cryptography process, two related keys are used they are public and private keys.
  • The public key can be freely distributed, while coupled private key, remains a secret.
  • The public key is used for encryption and for decryption private key is used.

Hash Functions:

  • In this algorithm, no key is used.
  • A fixed-length hash value is computed as per the plain text, making it impossible for the contents of the plain text to be recovered.
  • Hash functions are also used by many operating systems to encrypt passwords.

What are the current encryption models with the Indian Army?

  • The Indian Army is developing cryptographic techniques to make its networks resistant to attacks by systems with quantum capabilities.
  • In 2019, the Centre affirmed  quantum technology as a “mission of national importance”.
  • 2020-21, Union Budget had put forward to spend Rs 8,000 crore on the newly launched National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications.
  • In Feb 2022, A joint team of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and IIT Delhi successfully demonstrated a QKD link between two cities in UP, Prayagraj and Vindhyachal.

Indian Army needs the upgradation in the encryption model

  • The Traditional encryption models of the Indian army are at risk.
  •  The recent encryption standards can be broken by quantum cryptography. There are increasing military applications of quantum technology.
  • India will have to dynamically deal with cyber risks arising from quantum computing advances by some nations in this sector.
  • The US National Quantum Initiative Act has already allocated $1.2 billion for research in defense-related quantum technology. China now hosts two of the world’s fastest quantum computers.
  • Another vulnerability is India’s dependence on foreign hardware, particularly from China.
  • Two of the world’s fastest quantum computer is hosted by China now, which is a reason for concern for India
  • India has so far experienced a barrage of attacks from state-sponsored hackers of China.
  • These China’s headways in quantum computing supplemented the spectra of quantum cyber 

attacks against India’s digital infrastructure


Pic: Cryptography

Quantum Technology

  • This technology is based on the principles of Quantum mechanics
  • This technology was developed in the early 20th century to set out nature at the scale of atoms and elementary particles.
  • In the 1st stage of the revolution, this innovative technology has buildup the foundations of understanding the physical world and inspired ubiquitous inventions such as lasers and semiconductor transistors.
  • The 2nd  stage of the revolution is currently underway with the goal of putting properties of quantum mechanics in the realms of computing.

What are quantum computers?

  • These computers can empower machine learning by enabling AI programs to search through enormous datasets with respect to medical research, consumer behavior, financial markets, etc.
  • This computing system provides assistance to integrate data and quickly analyze and understand the patterns.

How to make India’s cyberspace resilient?

  • To stand up the quantum cyber attacks India has very few capabilities in developing advanced systems.

Procurement of NSA Quantum Resistant Suite

  • Our country can procure the United States National Security Agency’s (NSA) Suite B Cryptography Quantum-Resistant Suite as its official encryption mechanism.
  • The NSA is developing new algorithms for their cypher suite that are resistant to quantum cyberattacks, This can also facilitate India’s official transition to quantum-resistant algorithms.

Emulating NIST cryptographic standards

  • The Indian defence establishment can emulate the cryptographic standards set by the US’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
  • The NIST tools can handle quantum computer attacks and can use algorithms to frame a post-quantum cryptographic standard.

Focus on collaboration

  • India can adopt these and start its national initiatives to develop quantum-resistant systems.
  • The government can fund and encourage existing open-source projects related to post-quantum cryptography.

Active participation in the Open Quantum Safe Project, a global initiative started in 2016 for prototyping and integrating quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms.

Focus on Implementation and Indigenization

India should start implementing and developing capabilities in quantum-resistant communications, specifically for critical strategic sectors.

quantum key distribution (QKD’s) over long distances for connecting military outposts for sensitive communications, can be prioritized.

It will ensure secure communications whilst protecting key intelligence from potential quantum cyberattacks.

Diplomatic partnerships with other “techno-democracies”

  • India can use its diplomatic resources to establish partnerships with countries with top technology sectors, advanced economies, and a commitment to liberal democracy.
  • It can help India pool resources and mitigate emerging quantum cyber threats.

Way forward:

  • India should think about, procuring the United States National Security Agency’s Suite B Cryptography Quantum-Resistant Suite because of its official encryption mechanism.
  • It is resistant to quantum cyber attacks.
  • The Indian defense establishment can also consider emulating the cryptographic standards set by the US’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.


The Economic Times 

The Indian Express 

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