Cyber Review - October 2023
Anurag Sharma, Senior Research Associate, VIF


The Cabinet approved the MoU between Bharat and Papua New Guinea on Digital Transformation

On 11 October 2023, the Union Cabinet approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on 28 July this year between Bharat’s Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) and Papua New Guinea’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT) on cooperation in the areas of sharing successful digital solutions implemented at population scale for digital transformation. The MoU shall come into effect from the date of the Parties' signature (Bharat and Papua New Guinea) and remain in force for three years.

In the past few years, Bharat has proven to be a leader in deploying Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI), effectively delivering services to the general public even during the Wuhan virus, aka the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, many nations have shown an interest in signing MoUs with Bharat and benefiting from its experience.

Bharat has developed and implemented a population-scale DPI called India Stack Solutions to facilitate the delivery and accessibility of public services. It seeks to enable access to public services, encourage digital inclusion, and improve connectivity. They are interoperable, based on open technologies, and intended to leverage community and industry involvement to promote creative and inclusive solutions. Though the fundamental functionality of DPI is the same, each nation has different requirements and difficulties in developing it, allowing for international cooperation.[1]

The Cabinet approved MoU between Bharat and France on collaboration in Digital Technologies

On 11 October 2023, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of digital technologies between France's Ministry of Economy, Finance, Industrial, and Digital Sovereignty (EFIDS) and India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) was approved by the Union Cabinet. The signed Memorandum of Understanding will enhance bilateral cooperation in digital technologies on a Government-to-government (G2G) and business-to-business (B2B) basis. The Memorandum of Understanding envisions improved collaboration, resulting in job openings in information technology.

Bharat and France have long been strategic allies. Both nations are dedicated to fostering a robust digital ecosystem and partnerships that will enable their people and guarantee their full involvement in the digital century. Bharat and France are pursuing an ambitious bilateral cooperation on advanced digital technologies, particularly in supercomputing, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and quantum technologies, including within the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) framework. This is based on the 2019 announcement of the Bharat-French Road map on Cyber security and Digital Technology.[2]

The Cabinet approved the MoC between Bharat and Japan on the “Bharat-Japan Semiconductor Supply Chain Partnership”

On 25 October 2023, the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on the Bharat-Japan Semiconductor Supply Chain Partnership, which was signed in July of this year by the Ministries of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) of Bharat and Economy, Trade, and Industry (ETI) of Japan, was approved by the Union Cabinet. The MoC will increase collaboration between the two countries to improve the semiconductor supply chain for developing digital and industrial technologies. Bilateral cooperation on opportunities to build a robust semiconductor supply chain and take advantage of complementary skills is done on a G2G and B2B level. MoC envisions increased collaboration, resulting in job openings in the IT industry.[3]

In a nationwide crackdown, Bharat targeted tech support scammers from Microsoft and Amazon

As a part of Operation Chakra-II, Bharat’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided 76 locations regarding tech support scams and crypto currency frauds. The operation targeted dismantling cyber-enabled financial crime syndicates and collaborative efforts with international law enforcement agencies and tech companies, such as Microsoft and Amazon. The raids were carried out in various States, including Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Bihar, Delhi, and West Bengal. The CBI confiscated 32 mobile phones, 48 laptops and hard disks, and 33 SIM cards. The tech support scam rings used various international payment gateways and channels to facilitate the movement of funds illicitly acquired from foreign nationals, mainly from the US, UK, and Germany.

The illegal call centres raided by CBI were set up to impersonate Microsoft and Amazon customer support. They targeted over 2,000 customers across Amazon and Microsoft primarily based in the US, but also Canada, Germany, Australia, Spain, and the UK,” said Amy Hogan-Burney, the GM of Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit. “These scammers would contact the victims via internet pop-up messages that falsely appeared to be security alerts from these MNCs (Complainants). The pop-up messages fraudulently claimed that the consumer's computer was having various technical issues. A toll-free number would be given, where the victim would contact, and call would land up in their e-call centres (of accused). These companies would then take remote access of the victim’s computer & convince the victim of presence of non-existing problems and then allegedly make them pay hundreds of US dollars for unnecessary services,” read the statement released by the CBI. [4]


The United States will share ransomware data with allies

The White House is finalising a new strategy on how governments should respond to ransomware attacks, including exchanging information on attackers and the online accounts they use to collect money. According to news reports, the US administration will announce 'significant' accomplishments during the 3rd International Counter Ransomware Initiative, including plans for sharing information on ransomware attackers between countries. According to Statista data, organisations worldwide detected 493.33 million ransomware attack attempts in 2022.

The criminals behind these hacks often used data from victims in one country to wage attacks on organisations in another country, which makes alliance across countries essential in fighting them. A US-led alliance aimed at tackling these threats now includes 50 countries – from Nigeria and Costa Rice to Singapore and South Korea, also the Interpol and the European Union,” said a US administration official based on anonymity. [5]

G7 to agree on a Code of Conduct for companies developing AI systems

On 30 October 2023, the Group of Seven industrial countries agreed on a code of conduct for companies developing advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems as governments seek to mitigate the risks and potential misuse of technology. The process dubbed the “Hiroshima AI Process”, was kicked off in May 2023 at a Ministerial forum by the leaders of the G7 nations.

The 11-point Code of Conduct “aims to promote safe, secure, and trustworthy AI worldwide and will provide voluntary guidance for actions by organisations developing the most advanced AI systems, including the most advanced foundation models and generative AI systems,” read the G7 document. [6]

Hackers accessed 632,000 email addresses at the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Justice

According to a report prepared by the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), last summer, a Russian-speaking hacker group obtained access to the e-mail addresses of the US federal employees of the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Justice (DoJ), as part of MOVEit hack. Previously, the national cyber security officials confirmed that the cyber-attack compromised government agencies; however, they were unclear on the scope of the attack. [7]

Post-blackout, Internet access in Gaza was restored partially

On 27 October 2023, internet monitoring firms reported that internet accesshad significantly degraded in the Palestinian enclave. According to NetBlocks, the local internet service provider— Net Stream collapsed. Similarly, another internet monitoring system— IODA, showed internet outages and degradation across several Palestinian internet service providers. “There was the 34-hour complete blackout from Friday to Sunday (27-29 October), followed by a partial outage in northern Gaza,” said Madory, Director at Kentik.

The internet outage in Gaza occurred as the IDF expanded ground operations in addition to continuing air attacks. The operations are in reaction to terrorist strikes by Hamas, which killed over 1,400 Israelis. [8]

TikTok and Snapchat agreed to tackle AI-generated child sex abuse content

During a global summit on AI hosted by the United Kingdom (UK), Britain announced a joint statement, listing the United States (US), German, and Australian governments among its 27 signatories, and tech firms— TikTok, Snapchat, and Stability AI, pledging to work together to counter child sex abuse content generated by the Artificial Intelligence (AI). “We resolve to work together to ensure that we utilise responsible AI for tackling the threat of child sexual abuse and commit to continue to work collaboratively to ensure the risks posed by AI to tackling child sexual abuse do not become insurmountable,” read the statement.

Citing the data from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), Britain highlighted that in one of the Dark Web forums, users had exchanged nearly 3,000 images of AI-generated child sexual abuse material. “It is crucial, now, we set an example and stamp out the abuse of this emerging technology before it has a chance to fully take root,” said IWF chief executive Susie Hargreaves. [9]


[1]“Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding between India and Papua New Guinea”, Presspubli Information Bureau-Ministry of Electronics and IT, 11 October 2023, available from:
[2]“Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding between Bharat and France on cooperation in the field of Digital Technologies”, Press Information Bureau- Ministry of Electronics and IT, 11 October 2023, available from:
[3]“Cabinet approves Memorandum of Cooperation between India and Japan on Japan-India Semiconductor Supply Chain Partnership”, Press Information Bureau- Ministry of Electronics and IT, 25 October 2023, available from:
[4]Gatlan, Sergiu. “India targets Microsoft, Amazon tech support scammers in nationwide crackdown”, Bleeping Computer, 19 October 2023, available from:
[5]Hunnicutt, Trevor and Zeba Siddiqui. “White House to share ransomware data with allies-source”, Reuters, 31 October 2023, available from:
[6]Chee, Yun Foo. “G7 to agree to AI Code of Conduct for companies”, Reuters, 29 October 2023, available from:
[7]Natter, Ari. “Hackers accessed 632,000 email addresses at US Justice, Defense Departments”, Bloomberg, 30 October 2023, available from:
[8]Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo. “Internet access in Gaza partially restored after blackout”, TechCrunch, 31 October 2023, available from:
[9]James, Williams and Sarah Young, “TikTok, Snapchat and others sign pledge to tackle AI-generated child sex abuse images”, Reuters, 31 October 2023, available from:

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