Cyber-intelligence specialist, writer and activist
Pukhraj Singh played an instrumental role in the setting up of the cyber-warfare operations centre of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO). NTRO gathers technical intelligence for the Indian Government.
Pukhraj was laterally inducted into the agency from the private sector at a very short notice after the 26/11 attacks. It was a multi-disciplinary tenure, ranging from geopolitical doctrine formulation, eventually approved by the Prime Minister, to the very brass tacks of cyber operations.
The inputs from his small but highly disruptive division helped chart the course of some seminal government initiatives on cybersecurity.
Pukhraj also had brief stints with commercial threat intelligence teams and a couple of start-ups.
On a personal note, he runs a small non-profit initiative called Abroo, working for the Dalits of Punjab. Pukhraj admires writers like Joseph Campbell and Hunter S. Thompson.
The majority of the cyber-espionage cases we had profiled at the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) have still not been neutralized. The theft of sensitive information is happening right under our noses. More than that, the impact of numerous product backdoors and state-sponsored attacks coming to light in recent years haven't even been locally accounted for. Once the vulnerability is known, it's only a matter of time others exploit it. So it's criminal to leave it unaddressed.
A landmark cyber assistance framework has been sought from the US. It would be incorrect to call it a deal as it's unclear what India has to offer in return. Yet, more alarming is the blinding ignorance of the diplomatic advisers nudging the Prime Minister into a national security quagmire.
The story is how a government agency, in its quest to attain god-like sentience, has put the security, economic stability and sovereignty of many developing nations into jeopardy. The story is how India's growth has been irreparably sabotaged by a spate of cyber-espionage attacks, an enormous loss that its institutions are not even equipped to quantify.