As per claims by Pak and Chinese officials, close to 15,000 files have been compromised.
New Delhi: In an incident that was stopped from being reported widely, critical military information related to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) have been stolen from computer systems installed at the PAF headquarters, Islamabad. The said incident took place in May, but its happening was leaked earlier this month among close quarters in Pakistan. Pakistan and the Chinese entities that work in tandem in the space of cyber security have claimed that the said cyber “espionage” was carried out by “India friendly entities”.
According to officials in these countries, these entities that hacked into the Pakistani military systems downloaded malwares, which after being installed in the targeted computer system, retrieved a large number of documents, presentations, including encrypted files, that were stored in them. The said malware was sent to the target that were embedded in emails that had purportedly come from superior officers. Some of the files that were transferred from the military computer systems were related to satellite communications, military communication and nuclear facilities.
In all, as per claims by Pakistan and Chinese officials, close to 15,000 files, some of them which included correspondence sent by the top most defence offices of Pakistan, have been compromised.
Later, Pakistan-based analysts were able to identify the intrusion, according to unverified claims, on the basis of clues that were left behind by the very hackers who broke into the systems. A similar action was executed, as per claims by the same analysts, in March that targeted Pakistan’s naval assets.
As per the chatter between Chinese and Pakistan-based officials who have been asked to handle such intrusion, another such exercise was attempted by the same entities earlier this week and it was still going on till the time the story went to press.
State-sponsored Chinese media earlier this month had published reports about another entity, which it claimed was based in India, launching separate cyber-attacks on Pakistani and Chinese military establishments last year. The reports claimed that the attacks had, apart from stealing data, “damaged infrastructure” related to energy. If the claims of the Chinese and Pakistani officials are true, then this would be among the first such incidents in which critical information related to military establishments of these two countries have been compromised by entities that are allegedly “pro-India”.
China and Pakistan, for a long time now, have been carrying out cyber-attacks against Indian military and civilian enterprises, something which has been attributed to lack of awareness among officials on how to avoid these cyber attacks, which in most cases, come through a simple trojan email as was done in the present case.
Interestingly, India had in October 2020 suffered a Chinese state-sponsored cyber-attack on its power plants which led to a widespread power outage in Mumbai. The same was denied by China.