Indian companies, government agencies, media houses, and other industries may face cyber attack by Chinese state sponsored hacker groups, according to chatter uncovered by cyber Intelligence firm Cyfirma on the Dark Web (a part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines). The Chinese-backed hacker group may target Indian government websites and corporates in the pharma, smartphone telecom, tyre and construction industries to steal sensitive data, as per the report.
As per Singapore-headquartered cyber security firm, there has been surge in chats in the Chinese hacking community in the last ten days, discussing ways to teach lesson to India, especially media houses which have been critical of Chinese army. This was attributed to the current border tensions between the two countries after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in pre-meditated and planned attack by Chinese soldiers at Galwan Valley in Ladakh on Monday night. This was the biggest military confrontation in over five decades that has significantly escalated the already volatile border standoff between the two countries.
According to the report, leading Indian companies such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, L&T, BSNL, ApolloTyres, Micromax and Cipla could be targeted, along with the Defence, Foreign Affairs and Information and Broadcasting ministries.
"What piqued our interest was the list published on these forums. They had names of several Indian companies, media houses, telecom operators and a large tyre company. When we started attributing the handles publishing these lists back to their sources we found that they belonged to two hacking groups, Gothic Panda and Stone Panda, two well known hacking groups with direct affiliation to PLA (People's Liberation Army)," The Economic Times quoted Kumar Ritesh, chairman and CEO of Cyfirma, as saying.
He said that Cyfirma has already informed the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) and some companies mentioned in these chats.
Last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had said that several Australian entities including government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure, were being targeted by sophisticated state-based cyber hacks. He, however, did not give further details.
By Chitranjan Kumar
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