The defence forces need to work in unison to combat computer-based external attacks, Defence Minister A K Antony said on Monday, reflecting the government's worries over the complex world of cyber warfare amid reports of Chinese spies targetting the Indian military via the Internet.
"The paradigms of security in the age of information technology are seldom constant. The evolving security matrix is complex and calls for co-operation and coordination of the highest level," Antony said, addressing army commanders here.
The minister said cyber attacks were "fast becoming the next generation of threats" and as such, no single service could work in isolation.
"We need to make our cyber systems as secure and as non-porous as possible," he said.
The assertion comes amid frequent attacks and the subsequent alerts sounded by army authorities over China and Pakistan-based cyber spies peeking into India's sensitive business, diplomatic and strategic records.
Recently, an Indian army major's computer was hacked in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The input was given by the American intelligence agencies after some intercepts showed a picture of a brigadier, on a training course in the US, being dispatched to Pakistan from the computer in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Antony made a strong plea for synergy among the army, the navy and the air force, saying the "future security matrix calls for a high-degree of cooperation and inter-dependence among the services".
"The primary area of focus should be to develop a force capable of operating in a joint network-centric environment," he said.
"Though significant progress has been made towards accomplishing jointness in various operational training and administrative facets among the three services, there are a number of areas of congruence that need to be strengthened further," he said.
Referring to the modernisation plans of the armed forces, the defence minister said it was in the government's long-term national interest to become self-reliant in the field of critical defence equipment.
"Modernisation of the armed forces depends upon the capital acquisition plan. However, the acquisition of critical technologies from foreign countries is subject to various technology denial regimes and the prevailing global geo-political situation," he said.
Antony underlined that the defence public sector undertakings were capable of undertaking design and development work.
"Despite these achievements, we must guard against complacency and must ceaselessly work towards more value addition, product support and serviceability of the supplies made to the end-users - the services," he said.