Recent allegations by the Canadian government against India have not only strained diplomatic relations but also led to a notable surge in cybersecurity threats. Hacktivist groups and other cyber entities have engaged in activities that compromise the security of digital spaces. This article aims to discuss the complex cybersecurity scenario shaped by the Canada-India diplomatic row, touching upon the recent events and warnings from Canadian cyber authorities.
A hacktivist group known as Indian Cyber Force has caught the attention of cybersecurity experts by announcing an attack campaign against Canada, termed ‘Operation Canada.’ The announcement was made on the X messaging platform. The group claimed they would launch attacks on Canadian cyberspace within three days. The Canadian Security Establishment (CSE) and its Canadian Centre for Cyber Security have responded by issuing warnings. According to their statement, geopolitical events often lead to an increase in cyber campaigns. While the primary focus of the Cyber Centre is to defend Government of Canada networks, they urge Canadians and organizations to remain vigilant against cyber threats.
The context of these cyber activities also extends to global alliances and issues. Historically, NATO countries like Canada that support Ukraine have been targeted with increased Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Canadian agencies have issued similar warnings during the recent visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Canada. The warnings are not isolated to threats from Indian cyber groups; Canada has also faced cyber threats from Russia-aligned entities, especially targeting the country's oil and gas sector.
Given the prevailing geopolitical tensions, Canadian organizations must assume they could be targeted. Experts recommend that website administrators ensure their websites are fully patched. Additionally, admin access should be restricted, management consoles should not be publicly accessible on the internet, and multifactor authentication should be enabled for logins. Preparations to counter DDoS attacks should also be in place.
The rising cybersecurity concerns amidst the Canada-India diplomatic friction underscore the transformation of modern diplomacy. The battlefield is no longer limited to political forums or military arenas; it extends to the cyberspace where even a small-scale hack can have significant real-world implications. As nations navigate these multifaceted challenges, there is an increased need for vigilance and preparedness to mitigate cybersecurity threats effectively.