Cyber geostrategy and cyber international relations
Since a decade, I have carried the alter ego of a ‘cyber geostrategist’ (for the lack of a better term). I am a cyber threat detection engineer with two decades of experience. I run a cybersecurity operations centre in the day and transform into a geopolitical wonk at night.
I am a computer science graduate with a master’s degree in cyber geostrategy (with Distinction) from UNSW Canberra, at the Australian Defence Force Academy. I am formally trained in cyber threat intelligence, detection engineering, malware analysis, cybersecurity operations, Australian defence policy, Indo-Pacific multilateralism, national security strategy, military doctrine, information operations and strategic communication. This unique combination of skills imparts me with a different worldview.
After the 26/11 terror attacks of 2008, I became the first ‘lateral entrant’ to be inducted from the private sector into the Indian signals intelligence agency NTRO under the Prime Minister’s Office.
I was the counterintelligence leader for a nascent Indian cyber defence division investigating GhostNet, the sweeping Chinese cyber espionage operation discovered in 2008. This was long before such Chinese activity attracted mainstream attention. I was also the incident commander assessing Stuxnet’s impact on India in 2010, an effort which led to the creation of the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre. At NTRO, my output was consumed by the highest offices and influenced the bilateral dialogues between Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao.
While I left NTRO in 2013, I tipped off the Indian government on the intrusions into the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 2019. The massive intrusion at ISRO coincided with the crash of the lunar mission Chandrayaan II, which left me searching for answers.
From 2009 onwards, I have witnessed first-hand the role which cyber operations play in shaping the world order. Since then, I have mostly been an autodidact when it comes to gaining an interdisciplinary knowledge of cyber policy.
My byline made its way to all the national Indian broadsheets like the Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, The Tribune, Deccan Herald, Outlook and many others. I trained senior Indian military commanders, participated in Track II diplomatic dialogues on cyber policy and advised the Indian government on its draft ‘cyber doctrine’. I have been published by the Australian Defence College, Australian Strategic Policy Institute and US Military Academy.
In 2021, I, my partner and our son moved to Brisbane, Australia, under the Distinguished Talent program. I have made steady inroads into the Australian discourse. I have participated in national cyber crisis management exercises, information exchanges and capacity building initiatives of the Australian government.
My corporate work experience in cybersecurity spans global technology companies in Canada, India, Malaysia and Israel. I have also founded the Centre for Epistemic Security, an Australian think tank undertaking doctrinal and strategic research on informational, cognitive and grey-zone threats targeting liberal democracies.
In my past life, I was known as the founder of Abroo, a now-defunct socio-political initiative for the empowerment of the Dalits and marginalised of the Indian Punjab. I have anointed myself as an amateur poet and aficionado of Punjabi Sufi music.
2023: Australian Strategic Policy Institute: Recent Chinese cyber intrusions signal a strategic shift
2022: Australian Defence College: Counterpropaganda is not a dirty word
2022, Hindustan Times: CERT-In’s new cybersecurity directive is a misadventure
2021, Australian Strategic Policy Institute: Critical infrastructure legislation should also set the parameters of cognitive security
2021, Observer Research Foundation: The equities of telco cyber exploitation: 5G and the Huawei ban
2021, Observer Research Foundation: The SolarWinds hack pokes holes in Defend Forward
2020, Hindustan Times: SolarWinds: Cyber strategists are back to the drawing board
2020, Hindustan Times: On China, it’s time to consider cyber operations
2020, Infosecurity Mag: How the MSSPs can strive to be detection ninjas
2019, Outlook: A post-Kudankulam roadmap for India’s cyber deterrence
2019, Hindustan Times: An act of war in the Indian cyberspace
2019, The Centre for Internet and Society: Before cyber norms, let’s talk about disanalogy and disintermediation
2019, US Military Academy: A death knell for the international norms of cyber conflict
2019, The Quint: US-Iran tensions: What Indian cyber commanders can learn
2019, Deccan Herald: Gerasimov of South Asia
2019, The Tribune: Nations should strive for cognitive security
2018, The Tribune: We should all have something to hide
2018, The Tribune: There is continual war in cyberspace
2018, The Tribune: Digital privacy and the illusion of choice
2018, The Tribune: Digital privacy is a Faustian bargain
2018, The Indian Express: When code is law
2017, DEFCOM: A Journal of the Indian Army: Cyberspace as a theatre of ‘nonlinear war‘
2016: Centre for Advanced Strategic Studies: Cyber, Darkly
2013, Seminar: Thinking offensively!
2011, Jindal Journal of International Affairs: Battle-ready for the fifth dimension: Assessing India’s cyber-defence preparedness
2023, AusCERT Conference: Non-linear, decentralised and multi-stakeholder incident response using the Incident Command System
2021, DynamicCISO Summit: The empirical paradoxes of cybersecurity
2021, CyFy: 5G, 6G and beyond: How to secure the Internet?
2019, College of Air Warfare, Indian Air Force: In cyber, the generals should lead from behind
2019, ITWeb Security Summit, South Africa: Politics and power in cybersecurity
2019, Headquarters of the Integrated Defence Staff, Ministry of Defence, India: Synergy in joint cyber operations
2018, Signals Intelligence Directorate, Indian Army: Understanding the physics of cyber operations
2018, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses: The digital age, cyber space, and social media: The challenges of security and radicalization
2018, Rootconf: The death of enterprise security as we know it
2012, Nullcon: Shall we dust China? The geo-strategic realities of cyberwar
Email me at [email protected].