Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut on Monday, March 1, affirmed that a news report by the New York Times (NYT) claiming that the massive power outage in Mumbai last year could have been due to a cyber-attack from China was true.
Validating the claims made by NYT, Raut said that the state government had "formed three committees to inquire into the matter", adding that "we will receive a detailed report this evening from the cyber department."
The Maharashtra cyber department had, at the outset, suspected that a malware attack could be responsible for the power outage in the city in October last year.
The power disruption halted trains and shut down stock exchanges and hospitals for hours. Several areas in suburban central Mumbai faced outages for almost 10 to 12 hours.
India Today had in November last year reported that the Maharashtra cyber department tracked down the infusion of malware at the Padgha-based state load dispatch centre.
Meanwhile, the report cited by the NYT asserted that when Indian and Chinese soldiers were engaged in an intense confrontation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, the malware was being imbued into the control systems responsible for power supply across the country.
The flow of malware was discovered by Recorded Future, a Massachusetts-based company that reviews online digital threats.
It detected that most of the malware was never activated. This means only a small proportion of malware led to the Mumbai electricity outage.
The report further added that the China-linked threat activity group RedEcho may have planted the malware in key power plants in India.
"RedEcho has been seen to systematically utilise advanced cyber intrusion techniques to quietly gain a foothold in nearly a dozen critical nodes across the Indian power generation and transmission infrastructure," said Stuart Solomon, chief operating officer of Recorded Future.