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Centre Refutes China’s Hands in Mumbai Power Outage

Centre Refutes China’s Hands in Mumbai Power Outage

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NEW DELHI, Mar 2: The Indian government has rejected the reports in a section of the media that China had a hand in the power outage in India’s financial capital of Mumbai that had blacked out most parts of the mega city on October 12.

Turning into a sort of political battle, the union power minister RK Singh said while there had been no evidence of a possible Chinese involvement, there have been attempts to hack the cyber systems.

“As far as the Chinese hand is concerned, we don’t have any evidence of a Chinese hand in the Mumbai incident. But there were some cyber attacks or some hacking attempts at some of our load dispatch centres in November. Our teams got wise to the attacks and they informed our centres. Those centres carried out the audits,” Singh told the media.

The centre’s response to the media reports followed a strong rebuttal issued by China on the allegation. Responding to comments on China trying to bully India with cyber attacks amid the border tensions, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said such claims were “irresponsible”

In a statement shared by the spokesperson of Chinese Embassy in India on Twitter, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said: “As staunch defender of cyber security, China firmly opposes & cracks down on all forms of cyber attacks. Speculation & fabrication have no role to play on the issue of cyber attacks. Highly irresponsible to accuse a particular party with no sufficient evidence around.”

The report raising an accusing finger against China that the reason behind the outage might have been more than just a technical failure, surfaced after a study by Recorded Future – an intelligence provider for enterprise security – that claimed to reveal details of “a cyber campaign conducted by a China-linked group, named RedEcho,” the power outage by many is being seen as China’s attempt to threaten Indian amid the stand-off between the two nations on the borders.

While the Maharashtra government has launched an investigation into the matter, the Centre rejected the allegations against China.

Without mentioning the Mumbai power outage, the Power Ministry on Monday had said there was no impact on operations of Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) due to any malware attack, adding that prompt actions were taken on advisories issued against such threats.

“There is no impact on any of the functionalities carried out by POSOCO due to the referred threat. No data breach/data loss has been detected due to these incidents,” the ministry had said.

The ministry further added that prompt actions were being taken by the chief information security officers (CISOs) at all the control centres under operation by POSOCO for any incident/advisory received from various agencies like CERT-in, NCIIPC, CERT-Trans and the likes.

“An email was received from CERT-In on 19 November 2020 on the threat of malware called Shadow Pad at some control centres of POSOCO. Accordingly, action has been taken to address these threats,” the statement said.

“NCIIPC informed through mail on 12 February about threat by RedEcho through malware Shadow Pad that ‘Chinese state-sponsored threat actor group known as RedEcho is targeting Indian Power sector’s Regional Load Dispatch Centres along with State Load Dispatch Centres’,” the ministry added.

After the report was released, the Maharashtra government took cognisance and a preliminary report by the Maharashtra Cyber Cell was submitted to Home Minister Anil Deshmukh by state’s power minister Nitin Raut.

According to Deshmukh, the report’s findings state that there was evidence which suggests there might have been a cyber-sabotage attempt.

“The inquiry report has given an indication that a malware was infected into the MSEB servers. However, we can’t say which county is behind this at this point of time,” Deshmukh had said. In contradiction to the centre’s stand, the Maharashtra power minister had supported the media report about a possible sabotage. “When the power went out in Mumbai, I had said there was something wrong and had constituted three committees to probe it. I feel media reports that have surfaced are true,” Raut said.

(Manas Dasgupta)



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