DEFSAT 2024: SIA-India, ISAC Partner to Strengthen India’s Cybersecurity

Defence Industry

New Delhi: In line with the visionary objectives of the Prime Minister and the Defence Ministry, DEFSAT 2024 reflected a significant step forward in India’s cybersecurity preparedness. With the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU), SIA-India solidified a cybersecurity partnership with the Information Sharing and Analysis Centre (ISAC) to enhance India’s cyber resilience.

The collaboration between SIA-India and ISAC aims to strengthen defence mechanisms, foster information exchange, and promote proactive cyber defence practices in the space sector, safeguarding space operations integrity and security. The DEFSAT 2024 with the participation of over 500 stakeholders, including government bodies, armed forces, policymakers, industry leaders, and diplomats, alongside a global audience via live stream was a huge success.

Highlighting the crucial role of defence space and called for accelerated budget allocation, Dr Ajay Kumar, Former Secretary of the Ministry of Defence emphasised the need for a larger investment in the rapidly evolving sector. With startups securing contracts and grants, there’s immense potential to leverage the vibrant ecosystem. According to him, global private equity interest underscores India’s attractiveness. NavIC’s expansion into civil and defence sectors is imperative for strategic navigation, while robust cryptographic protocols are essential for satellite communication security. India’s quantum communication startups offer a pathway to significant advancements in the field.

Dr Ajay Kumar said, “The Defence Acquisition Procedure has evolved significantly, fostering private innovation in sectors like satellites and space. To enhance this, the DAP should actively support innovation in services and manufacturing, simplifying the procurement of new technologies. Since these innovations may lack multiple suppliers initially, the DAP should empower authorities to readily procure these solutions.”

Joint Secretary of New Emerging and Strategic Technologies (NEST), Mahaveer Singhvi (IFS), underscored the significance of AI, quantum, space, green hydrogen, and defence sectors, emphasising the need to engage with all stakeholders and SIA-India for providing the ideal platform for collaboration. He highlighted the recent interim budget announcement, wherein the government unveiled a notable surge in support for the space sector, pledging an additional investment of US$2 billion annually for the next decade. This commitment is poised to propel India’s space industry to new heights, projecting a market value of US$44 billion and a contribution of 8-10% to the global space economy by 2033, with export sales expected to reach $11 billion within the same timeframe.

Singhvi also highlighted the importance of enablers like technology transfer, data localisation, trade dispute resolution, and IPR policies.

Stressing the pivotal role of platforms like DEFSAT, Director General of the Defence Space Agency (DSA),  Air Vice Marshal Pawan Kumar, VM noted that the protracted development timeline in a field where technology is paramount. He referenced Operation 1991, commonly known as Desert Storm, hailed as the pioneering “space war” that leveraged GPS, precision-guided weapons, and satellite communication as integral components rather than mere supplements. Reflecting on the costly and data-intensive nature of space ventures, he underscored the imperative of maximizing resource utilisation and fostering civil-military fusion.

Envisioning a transformative trajectory for the Indian Military, amalgamating the realms of Land, Air, and Sea into a seamlessly integrated force fortified by cyber security measures, Lt Gen PJS Pannu, Chairman of the Defence Space Committee at SIA-India, emphasised on the holistic approach to encompass Space, Cyber, and Digital (ICT) capabilities, underscoring the imperative for a cyber-secured environment. ISAC serves as the linchpin in this endeavour, providing a vital nexus for intelligence gathering on cyber threats to critical infrastructure, he added.

Underscoring the pivotal role of cybersecurity in modern decision-centric warfare, citing the integration of cyber capabilities into concepts such as DARPA’s Mosaic Warfare, Gen Pannu pointed out the necessity for military engagement amidst the evolving security landscape. The partnership between SIA-India and ISAC establishes a collaborative framework aimed at fortifying the nation’s space and defence cybersecurity posture and safeguarding essential assets from cyber risks.