Monday 26 October 2020

Cyberattack on NIC leads to government data loss

Asked whether Chinese moles active in the US could be behind the cyberattack, sources in Delhi Police said, 'We are looking at all angles'

In a massive security breach, a cyberattack with malware targeted about 100 computers of the National Informatics Centre (NIC). The centre is the government’s nodal agency responsible for securing critical cyber-infrastructure in the country and comes under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

The news of the data breach follows that about snooping by a Chinese firm on Indian politicians, military leaders, entrepreneurs and journalists, among others.

Delhi Police’s Special Cell has initiated a probe into the matter. It has registered a case under the Information Technology (IT) Act in this connection.

Initial investigation suggests an email from a firm in Bengaluru contained the malware. An employee at the ministry said in his police complaint that he was unable to access his email and that there was something suspicious.

When it was found that not just his computer, but several others had been compromised too, it raised an alarm in the government quarters.

During the preliminary investigation, sleuths found that the cyberattack targeted several systems using an email. In the malware attack, when a user clicked on the email, the data from the systems vanished.

The sleuths have traced origins of the bug to a firm in the US that routed the cyberattack through an IT company in Bengaluru via a proxy server.

Asked whether Chinese moles active in the US could be behind the cyberattack, sources said, “In the current scenario, it is a possibility which we will be looking into. We have registered a case and are investigating the same.”

“It definitely is a security breach and we are looking at all angles,” the source added.

Sources said the computers at NIC’s cyber hub contain crucial information and data on India’s security, citizens and important government functionaries, including the prime minister, National Security Advisor, the home minister, among others.

The NIC helps implement national and state-level e-governance projects, provides consultancy to government departments and is responsible for research and development, and capacity building.

The cyberattack may have additionally affected the multi-gigabyte nationwide networks NICNET, NKN, National Data Centres, National Cloud, pan India VC infrastructure, Command and Control Centre, multi-layered GIS-based platform, Domain Registration and Webcast.

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