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Cyber Capabilities and National Power Report: IISS

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Cyber Capabilities and National Power Report: IISS:


The report was recently released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

  • The report analyses the cyber ecosystem of each state and how it intersects with international security, economic competition and military affairs.


The countries are assessed in seven categories:

  1. Strategy and doctrine.
  2. Governance, command and control.
  3. Core cyber-intelligence capability.
  4. Cyber empowerment and dependence.
  5. Cyber security and resilience.
  6. Global leadership in cyberspace affairs.
  7. Offensive cyber capability.


The report has divided the countries into three tiers of cyber power:

  1. First Tier: States with world-leading strengths across all the categories in the methodology. The United States of America is the only country in this tier.
  2. Second Tier: States that have world-leading strengths in some of the categories. Australia, Canada, China, France, Israel, Russia and the United Kingdom are in this tier.
  3. Third Tier: States that have strengths or potential strengths in some of the categories but significant weaknesses in others. India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, North Korea and Vietnam are in this tier.


Highlights of the report:

  1. The US is the only top-tier cyber power because of its increased risk of ransomware attacks carried out by hackers.
  2. The US was the only country in the top tier in terms of cyber security because of its unparalleled digital-industrial base, its cryptographic expertise and the ability to execute “sophisticated, surgical” cyber strikes against adversaries.
  3. China, which falls under the second-tier countries, is at least a decade behind the US when it comes to cyber power.


India Specific Observations:

  1. Despite the geo-strategic instability of its region and a keen awareness of the cyber threat it faces, India has made only “modest progress” in developing its policy and doctrine for cyberspace security.
  2. The military confrontation with China in the disputed Ladakh border area in June 2020, followed by a sharp increase in Chinese activity against Indian networks, has heightened Indian concerns about cyber security, not least in systems supplied by China.
  3. India is currently aiming to compensate for its weaknesses by building new capability with the help of key international partners – including the US, the UK and France – and by looking to concerted international action to develop norms of restraint.
  4. India’s approach towards institutional reform of cyber governance has been “slow and incremental”, with key coordinating authorities for cyber security in the civil and military domains established only as late as 2018 and 2019 respectively.


Way ahead for India:

India’s “best chance” of moving up to the second tier of cyber powers is “by harnessing its great digital-industrial potential and adopting a whole-of-society approach to improving its cyber security.


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Prelims and Mains Links:

Key findings, concerns and performance of India.

Sources: Indian Express.