Cyber snooping susceptible to misuse, says former secretary

PTI New Delhi | Updated on November 22, 2017 Published on August 25, 2013

Cyber-snooping may be useful in the war against terror, but such capabilities are prone to be abused by unscrupulous people to blackmail others, former secretary in the foreign ministry, KC Singh, today told an international conference on IT security.

“Through legal means they (USA) are scooping and dredging up huge amounts of information.

“(They are) only looking at bad guys who are communicating with each other, but you can retrieve it (the information) many years later for blackmail or whatever you want,” Singh said at ‘The Hackers Conference’, a meet organised in the city to discuss cyber security solutions.

He was referring to recent revelations of data mining by the US government by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The US has defended its surveillance programme saying it is for protecting American citizens and checking terrorist activities, Singh said, adding that the same technology can be used to blackmail leaders of any country.

“Somebody in this room becomes prime minister of India 20 years from now. They will go into your background and scoop it up to see what you were doing, what were the mails you were exchanging.

“That becomes the very instrument (for) blackmailing future leaders of any country,” Singh said.

Singh stressed on the need for international cooperation on matters of cyber security but noted that there are no international laws in this space which are binding on countries.

He said there was a requirement for joint development of capabilities across the globe before non-state actors like terrorists started taking advantage of the weaknesses in cyberspace.

But ideological difference and involvement of military in cyberspace is foiling international cooperation in the area, he added.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, Prasad Kariyawasam, one of the speakers at the event, said there was an urgent need to focus on developing regional capability in cyberspace before competing as part of the global economy.

“We have to catch up with the world, but before that challenges of cyber world must be handled properly.

“Every aspect of our life in the times to come may be controlled by this (cyber) revolution. Unless you have proper defences you cannot go forward,” Kariyawasam said.

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Published on August 25, 2013
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