New Delhi: After the recent skirmish at Galwan Valley, attention has focused to the virtual world. Chinese hackers are reportedly being blamed for bringing hacks at India's defence ministry as well as a dozen other reputed Indian firms. Companies in India who are at reported at a major risk include telecom majors such as Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.
The nature of attacks include defacing of websites, denial of service attacks, intricate phishing campaigns and even extraction of crucial business and trade data. A Singapore based threat intelligence agency - Cyfirma Research said Indian companies such as BSNL, Micromax, Airtel, Reliance Jio, MRF, Larsen & Toubro and pharmaceutical majors such as Cipla and Sun Pharma were on the radar of Chinese hackers.
It is learnt that these hackers are likely to target these companies to filter sensitive information, trade secrets as well as tarnish their reputation. It is also reported that the hackers were keen to "teach India, a lesson".
Three central ministries - Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign affairs and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting were also on the radar of these hackers. A Cyfirma note reads, "In the hackers' conversations, IP [Internet protocol] addresses were shared and discussed. Our analysis of these IP addresses attributed Gothic Panda and Stone Panda to be behind these potential hacking campaigns. These are two prolific hacking groups with close association with the Chinese Government."
The note also describes groups such as Gothic Panda and Stone Panda with alleged links with the Chinese government as major drivers of such hacks. While Gothic Panda has had experience sabotaging security in strategic sectors such as defence, aerospace, telecom, transportation, and manufacturing; Stone Panda has had its expertise in extracting trade secrets and supply chain information. Together, these groups have executed such campaigns against Japan, India, US, Canada, and Brazil.
The latest intelligence on Chinese state sponsored Cyber attacks could spook consumers of these firms. In a probably unrelated instance, consumers of Jio complained of latency in internet services on Monday. The Jio Fiber service was down for over 24 hours for scores of consumers in Delhi NCR, Lucknow, Ludhiana, and Dehradun.
Situation between India and China is reportedly tense despite a fruitful Lieutenant General level dialogue on Tuesday. Post Galwan, Indians has been forced to view Chinese and Chinese products with suspicion. Key Chinese contracts are being re-looked upon even as several Central and State governments have stalled contracts involving Chinese agencies. Maharashtra scrapped contracts worth Rs 5,000 crores while Haryana axed a power contract worth Rs 780 crores. Even the Indian Railways terminated a Rs 470 crore signalling works contract.
The overall narrative in India is tense with the general audience keen on dumping Chinese electronics, toys, and even goods and services that reads Made-in-China.