BANGKOK (AP) — India’s power sector has been targeted by hackers in a long-term operation thought to have been carried out by a state-sponsored Chinese group, a US-based private cybersecurity company detailed in a new report.
Over the last several months, the Insikt Group, the threat research division of Massachusetts-based Recorded Future, said it has collected evidence that hackers targeted seven Indian state centers responsible for carrying out electrical dispatch and grid control near a border area disputed by the two nuclear neighbors.
“ShadowPad continues to be employed by an ever–increasing number of People’s Liberation Army and Ministry of State Security-linked groups, with its origins linked to known MSS contractors first using the tool in their own operations and later likely acting as a digital quartermaster,” Recorded Future said in the report late Wednesday.
“I would like to advise the company concerned that if they really care about global cybersecurity, they should pay more attention to the cyberattacks by the U.S. government hackers on China and other countries, and do more to help promote dialogue and cooperation among countries, instead of using the cyberattack issue to stir up trouble and throw mud at China,” he told reporters.
“We have seen reports. There is a mechanism to safeguard our critical infrastructure to keep it resilient. We haven’t raised this issue with China,” he said.
Indian Minister of Power R.K. Singh said the report was not a cause for concern.
“We are always prepared,” he said. “We have a very robust security system. We are always alert.”
“Recorded Future continues to track Chinese state-sponsored activity groups targeting a wide variety of sectors globally — a large majority of this conforms to longstanding cyber espionage efforts, such as targeting of foreign governments, surveillance of dissident and minority groups, and economic espionage,” the report said.
“However, the coordinated effort to target Indian power grid assets in recent years is notably distinct from our perspective and, given the continued heightened tension and border disputes between the two countries, we believe is a cause for concern,” it added.
Because the prolonged targeting of India’s power grid “offers limited economic espionage or traditional intelligence-gathering opportunities,” Recorded Future said it seems more likely the goal is to enable information gathering around surrounding critical infrastructure systems, or to be pre-positioned for future activity.
“The objective for intrusions may include gaining an increased understanding into these complex systems in order to facilitate capability development for future use or gaining sufficient access across the system in preparation for future contingency operations,” Recorded Future said.
By David Rising. Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this story.
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