Mumbai: The Maharashtra Government has taken cognisance of a New York Times report claiming Mumbai power outage on October 12, 2020, was because of Chinese cyber attack or cyber sabotage.
A massive power outage in Mumbai in October, which stopped trains and shut down hospitals and the stock exchange for hours, may have been linked to these activities by a group of Chinese hackers, says the report that has been shared with the government.
Free Press Journal broke the story on October 15 in which energy minister Nitin Raut had sounded the possibility of a cyber attack being behind the power failure. However, the state government appointed technical committee or the panel set up by the Central Electricity Authority in their reports have not directly referred to a cyber attack which may have caused the power failure.
Incidentally, the Mumbai Cyber Cell, in its report, which has been submitted by Home Minister Anil Deshmukh to Raut, has alleged that there was an attempt to hack the servers of the MSEB in Mumbai. The erstwhile Maharashtra Electricity Board has been split into separate companies for generation, transmission and distribution. The Cyber Cell has hinted that the transmission server is believed to have been hacked.
According to the Cyber Cell, evidence has been found that about 14 Trojan horses tried to enter the MSEB Mumbai system. Further, 8 GB of data may have been transferred from an external server to MSEB's server. An attempt may have been made to log into MSEB's server from a blacklisted IP address.
Raut told Free Press Journal, ‘’ The Cyber Cell report will be submitted to the state legislature on Tuesday.’’ He declined to divulge further details.
Incidentally, the Cyber Cell report was submitted to Raut on a day the New York Times study was carried by a section of the media.
China-linked threat activity group RedEcho may have planted malware in key power plants in India, said the study reported by New York Times. The links to the Mumbai power cut "provides additional evidence suggesting the coordinated targeting of Indian Load Despatch Centres," said the study , which indicated that some of the country's most sensitive national infrastructure is vulnerable to systematic attacks from Chinese hackers who use state-of-the-art viruses that hack into systems.
The study shows that alongside the Ladakh tensions, which escalated in June with the clash at Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian soldiers died, Chinese malware was flowing into systems that manage power supply across India.
Further, the flow of malware was detected by the US based Recorded Future that analyses online digital threats. It found that most of the malware was never activated. And because Recorded Future could not get inside India's power systems, it could not examine the details of the code itself, which was placed in strategic power-distribution systems across the country.