Ladakh | Chinese hackers target India’s power grid, emergency response system: Report


Ladakh: Chinese state-sponsored hackers targeted Indian electricity distribution centres near Ladakh in recent months, a report by private intelligence firm Recorded Future said on Wednesday, in a new potential flashpoint following a months-long military standoff between the two countries in the region.

”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.

target of another hacking group, RedEcho, which Recorded Future has said shares “strong overlaps” with a hacking group that the US has tied to the Chinese government.

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

In addition, the hackers compromised an Indian national emergency response system and a subsidiary of a multinational logistics company, according to the report.

The hacking group, dubbed TAG-38, has used a kind of malicious software called ShadowPad, which was previously associated with China’s People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of State Security, according to Recorded Future. Researchers didn’t identify the victims by name.

Jonathan Condra, a senior manager at Recorded Future, said the method the attackers used to make the intrusions — using compromised internet of things devices and cameras — was unusual. The devices used to launch the intrusions were based in South Korea and Taiwan, he said.

The Chinese Ministry for Foreign Affairs didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time. Beijing has consistently denied involvement in malicious cyber activity. Indian authorities also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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