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Hackers tried to open communication channel with us: IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta

Manu Kaushik     January 14, 2021

On December 31, the largest domestic carrier IndiGo reported that some of its servers were subject to a hacking incident earlier that month. The airline said that it was able to restore the systems within a short span of time with minimal impact. Though it alerted the stakeholders on New Year's Eve that some segments of data servers were breached, and hence, there is a possibility that some internal documents may get uploaded by the hackers on public websites and platforms.

"We realise the seriousness of the issue, and are continuing to engage with all relevant experts and law enforcement to ensure that the incident is investigated in detail," the airline's official statement says.

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In an interaction with Business Today recently, IndiGo's CEO Ronojoy Dutta says that it's hard to know what kind of data may have been extracted by the hackers, and the airline is in the wait-and-watch mode. "I don't know what the hackers got exactly. We tried to find out but it's hard to exactly pinpoint what might have gone, and what might not have gone. Honestly, we don't know at this point," Dutta says adding that the airline was able to quickly react to the breach which minimised the impact.

"There has been almost zero impact. We got an early warning, and people jumped on it, and closed it quickly. We have a war room for these sorts of things. Our operations were not affected at all. Not a single flight got cancelled. Within a few hours, we were back. But there was a breach for a few hours," he says.

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During the pandemic, the Indian cyberspace has been constantly attacked by hackers, which in some cases are state-sponsored. In November, for instance, National Cyber Security Coordinator Lt Gen (retd) Rajesh Pant reportedly said that the cyberattacks have gone up manifold during pandemic, and nearly four lakh malwares are found every day in addition to 375 cyberattacks. Following the border clashes between India and China last year, the Chinese unleashed their cyber warfare against Indian companies, particularly in the PSU sector.

IndiGo's Dutta says that the reason airline is not speaking too much on the issue is because it doesn't want to encourage further bad behaviour with other players. "I think we had a narrow escape. It was contained quickly. Of course, our antenna is now up. We are putting a lot more additional defences to make sure it never happens again. They (hackers) tried to open a communication channel with us, and we said we are not interested," Dutta recalls.

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