China-Sponsored Hackers Targeted Indian Electricity Distribution Centres Near Ladakh: Report

New Delhi: A report by private intelligence firm Recorded Future said that hackers sponsored by the Chinese State targeted Indian electricity distribution centers near Ladakh over the last eight months. The group said that the target was geographically concentrated.

”In recent months, we observed likely network intrusions targeting at least seven Indian State Load Despatch Centres (SLDCs) responsible for carrying out real-time operations for grid control and electricity dispatch within these respective states. Notably, this targeting has been geographically concentrated, with the identified SLDCs located in North India, in proximity to the disputed India-China border in Ladakh,” the group said.

As per the NDTV sources, the attacks took place from last year August to March. After being investigated, it was established that the data passing in and out of Indian Load Dispatch Centres to the Chinese state-sponsored command and control servers spread across the world, they said.

“In addition to the targeting of power grid assets, we also identified the compromise of a national emergency response system and the Indian subsidiary of a multinational logistics company by the same threat activity group,” Recorded Future said.

Before publishing the report, the group alerted the government of their findings.

According to the intelligence firm, the Chinese sponsored hackers were trying to collect information surrounding critical infrastructure systems.

”Given the continued targeting of State and Regional Load Despatch Centres in India over the past 18 months, first from RedEcho and now in this latest TAG-38 activity, this targeting is likely a long-term strategic priority for select Chinese state-sponsored threat actors active within India,” it said.

”The prolonged targeting of Indian power grid assets by Chinese state-linked groups offers limited economic espionage or traditional intelligence-gathering opportunities. We believe this targeting is instead likely intended to enable information gathering surrounding critical infrastructure systems or is pre-positioning for future activity,” it added.

Recorded Future said that objective for intrusions may include gaining an increased understanding into these complex systems. Recorded Future said, ”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.”

India and China have long disputed their vast 3,500-km-long frontier and fought a brief border war in Arunachal Pradesh in 1962.

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