In what is being termed as the biggest cyber attack on the country’s official computer networks, over 10,000 email addresses of top government officials were hacked in a single day on July 12 this year.
The IDs included those of officials working in the PMO, defence, external affairs, home, finance ministries, as well as intelligence agencies. The attack has been blamed on state actors, based in countries inimical to India’s interests.
The attack took place despite an alert issued four days earlier, on July 8, by the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), formed under the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), as the malware or malicious software used was “sophisticated” and targeted subjects, individuals and organisations.
“The advisory was issued on July 8... and the PMO, NSA and other agencies alerted,” a top NTRO official told The Indian Express. “The MEA and MHA took the biggest hit, plus strategic information related to critical sectors, including troop deployment, was compromised.”
“Paramilitary forces were also badly hit, especially ITBP, as deployments were revealed. There were serious cases of negligence, the involvement of insiders, if any, is also being checked,” he added.
News of the attack was confirmed by officials of intelligence and enforcement agencies who attended a day-long NCIIPC conference in the capital on Monday where Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, NSA Shiv Shankar Menon and NTRO Chairman P V Kumar were among those present.
“We would not like to name the state actors but D4 — destroy, disrupt, deny and degrade — process was initiated and counter offensive launched,” the NTRO official said.