Upping the ante against the misuse of new age technology to destabilise economy and posing grave security threat, India has sought a meeting of UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) to discuss the new age dangers and ways to tackle them comprehensively.
Among the latest digital technology threats looming large include cryptocurrencies and NFTs, 3D printing and artificial intelligence. While announcing the proposal early this week, senior diplomat and India’s Permanent Representative TS Tirumurti, who is the chair of the CTC, said: “The need for member states to comprehensively address and tackle the implications of terrorist exploitation of the digital technologies more strategically has never been more dire.”
The meeting “will exclusively focus on this issue and attempt to provide the way forward” in facing the challenges from terrorists adopting new financial technologies to raise and transfer funds and using artificial intelligence and 3D printing for attacks, Tirumurti said.
According to Tirumurti, the inter-connected nature of the digital domain requires solutions to the complex problems and such threats cannot be resolved in isolation.
“There is an underlying need to adopt a collaborative rules-based approach and work towards ensuring its openness, stability and security,” Tirumurti added.
The Permanent Representative also spoke of the dangers from terrorist exploitation of the new financial technologies like virtual currencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that create monetary value out of non-physical entities, crowd-funding platforms and new payment methods like prepaid phone cards, mobile payments and online payment systems.
“The ease of access, anonymity and intractability offered by them have enabled terrorist entities to collect and transfer funds evading the monitoring and enforcement structures.”
Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo, who briefed the Council on “The Use of Digital Technologies in Maintaining International Peace and Security,” also sounded a warning about “the increasing availability of digital payment methods such as cryptocurrencies” that terrorists exploit.
“Non-state actors are becoming increasingly adept at using low-cost and widely available digital technologies to pursue their agendas.”
DiCarlo said that terror groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda “remain active on social media, using platforms and messaging applications to share information and communicate with followers for the purposes of recruitment, planning and fundraising.”
“Terrorist misuse of artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing for various terrorist purposes, which have a global reach, also demands our immediate attention,” Tirumurti said.
As per Tirumurti the approach to the problem of terrorism has to also go beyond looking at it as only a direct physical attack to holding equally responsible those “inciting the terrorist acts through hateful content and radical ideologies” even if they are far away from the incidents.
DiCarlo said that according to some estimates, “the number of state- and non-state-sponsored incidents of malicious use of digital technologies for political or military ends has nearly quadrupled since 2015.”
Tirumurti also warned about the cross-border terrorism by governments “leveraging their expertise in digital domain to achieve their political and security-related objectives” to target “critical national infrastructure, including health and energy facilities.”
He did not name any country, but an Indian official has acknowledged that Chinese hackers unsuccessfully targeted power distribution facilities in the Ladakh region.
Recorded Future, a US company that monitors cyber threats, had earlier reported that a Chinese group, Red Echo, had carried out cyber intrusions of several Indian electricity generation and distribution infrastructure facilities in 2020.