Report of the Virtual Conference on “Cyber-Space: Emerging Threats, Terrorism & the Responses” 14-15 December 2020

With the accelerating digitization and automation of civil, military, and economic infrastructure, being prepared to tackle the threat to cyber security is of utmost importance. To explore cyberterrorism and other trends prevalent in threats to cyber security and discuss the new developments in cyber-defence techniques, India Foundation along with the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel, organized a virtual conference on “Cyber-Space: Emerging Threats, Terrorism & the Responses” on 14-15 December 2020.

The conference was inaugurated by H.E. Dr Ron Malka, Ambassador of Israel to India and Ms Anitha Nandhini, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India in Israel. Highlighting the deep integration of technology in our daily lives, Ambassador Malka spoke about the increasing vulnerabilities of humankind and the urgent need to address the cyber security concerns. In her address, Ms Nandhini focused on the growing importance of the digital economy in India and the need to simultaneously develop a secure infrastructure for the economy to grow and for the society to prosper.

Session I | Big Data & Artificial Intelligence: Security Challenges & Opportunities

The Session was moderated by Dr Gulshan Rai, Former National Cyber Security Coordinator, Government of India, and the panel comprised of Prof. Boaz Ganor, Founder & Executive Director, ICT, IDC Herzliya, Ms. Shivangi Nadkarni, Co-Founder and CEO, Arrka Consulting, Ms. Jennifer Woodard, Co-Founder & CEO, Insikt Intelligence and Wing Commander (Retd.) S Sudhakaran, Co-founder and CEO, QuGates Technologies. The panellists deliberated upon the use of artificial intelligence for enhancing counterterrorism capabilities and designing custom software tools for law enforcement agencies. Technological advancements have created mass amounts of data that can be accessed easily, and this creates security vulnerabilities which must be addressed. They emphasised on the relevance to discuss the differences between artificial and synthetic intelligence and the plausible policy implications.

Session II | Social Media as a Tool for Propaganda, Radicalization & Recruitment

The session was moderated by Mr Stevie Weinberg, Deputy Executive Director, ICT, IDC Herzliya. The panel comprised of Ms Prabha Rao, Distinguished Fellow, India Foundation & Executive Director, South Asian Institute for Strategic Affairs, Prof. Gabriel Weimann, Senior Researcher, ICT, IDC Herzliya and ASG Michele Coninsx, Assistant-Secretary General & Executive Director, Counter-Terrorism Executive Department (CTED), Security Council, United Nations. The panel discussed extensively on the Moghaddam Staircase Model and the opportunities created by social media for self-radicalization. Concerns were raised about the increasing global digital population and the use of mobile phones to access the radicalizing material available online. While it is important to bridge the digital divide, it is equally important to create a secure digital ecosystem.

Session III | Crypto-Currency, Dark Web & Cognitive Networks: Terrorism Financing & Financial Frauds

The session was moderated by Ms Prabha Rao, Distinguished Fellow, India Foundation & Executive Director, South Asian Institute for Strategic Affairs. The panel comprised of Dr Eitan Azani, Director of Research, ICT, IDC Herzliya, Mr. Krishna Sastry, Partner, Cyber Security, Ernst and Young (EY), India, Dr Shlomit Wagman, Director General of Israel’s Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority (IMPA), Israel and Dr Madan Oberoi, Executive Director, INTERPOL. The session commenced with a preliminary discussion on the need for the legal infrastructure to progress in tandem with the emerging financial technologies. There exists a pressing need for intelligence investigation of the digital financial ecosystem to understand the covert layers of financial manipulations aiding terrorism and other illegal activities.

Session IV | State Response to Cyber Threat Against Critical Infrastructure

The session was moderated by Dr Sanjay Bahl, Director General, Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India. The panel comprised of Mr Erez Kreiner, Associate, ICT, IDC Herzliya & Former Director, Israel National Cyber Directorate, Prof Triveni Singh, IPS, Superintendent of Police, Cyber Crime, Mr Oren Elimelech, Associate, ICT, IDC Herzliya & CISO and Head of the Cyber and Information Security Regulatory Manager, Ministry of Transport and Road Safety, Israel, and Mr Dominic Karunesudas, Managing Editor, DroneDesk, Technitics Consulting Pvt Ltd. The economy and resilience of a nation is linked to the critical infrastructure and disruption, of any kind, in the functioning of this infrastructure would cause devastating effects. There has been an increased connectivity and dependability of the critical infrastructure on information and communication technology across sectors which have become vulnerable to cyber attacks motivated by monetary gains, espionage or causing disruption of services. The panellists exchanged the Indian and Israeli experiences with the response to such threats.

Session V | The India Foundation ICT Cyber-Security Dialogue: A Conversation between Cyber-Security Leaders

The session was moderated by Captain Alok Bansal, Director, India Foundation and the panel comprised of Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Rajesh Pant, National Cyber Security Coordinator, Prime Minister’s Office, Government of India and Mr Yigal Unna, Director General, Israel National Cyber Directorate. Representing the senior-most offices for cyber security in India and Israel, the two leaders discussed the emerging challenges to cyber security in their respective regions. Emphasis was laid on the need for stronger collaboration between the two countries for strengthening their capabilities.

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