Chinese hackers target India’s electric power grid, but fail to get past the Indian cyber defense tech: US security report

The massive cyber-espionage operation targeted 7 Indian states across the northern region of the country.

A US-based cyber security group claimed that in a massive cyber-espionage operation, the Chinese government-linked cyber groups targeted at least seven Indian State Load Dispatch Centers (SLDCs) in northern India.

These centers are responsible for carrying out real-time operations for grid control and electricity dispatch in northern India, US-based group Recorded Future said.

“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.

The group primarily used the trojan ShadowPad, which is believed to have been developed by contractors for China’s Ministry of State Security, leading to the conclusion that this was a state-sponsored hacking effort, the group reported.

“ShadowPad continues to be employed by an ever–increasing number of People’s Liberation Army and Ministry of State Security-linked groups, with its origins linked to known MSS contractors first using the tool in their own operations and later likely acting as a digital quartermaster,” Recorded Future said in the report late Wednesday.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Thursday the report had been “noted” by Beijing, but that China “firmly opposes and combats any form of cyber attacks, and will not encourage, support or condone any cyber attacks.”

A map of targeted power infrastructure released by the group illustrated rough locations concentrated in northern India.

The group said they alerted the government of their findings before publishing the report.

“Two attempts by Chinese hackers were made to target electricity distribution centres near Ladakh but were not successful… We’ve already strengthened our defence system to counter such cyber attacks,” Power Minister RK Singh was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

According to the intelligence firm, considered to be among the world’s largest with a specialisation in identifying threats from state-sponsored hackers, the Chinese attackers were trying to gather information surrounding critical infrastructure systems.

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