Cyber Attack on Indian Ministry of External Affairs

Cyber Attack on Indian Ministry of External Affairs
By Shashank Phatak, January 28, 2023

Cyber Attack on Indian Ministry of External Affairs

The recent cyber security attack against the email server of Ministry of External Affairs has been termed as a big threat to national security and termed as the biggest hack on India’s national security. Yet to be confirmed from the officials, recent news aired by Zee News channel have conducted an analysis which seems like the attack has landed Indian Government into trouble. As per their statements, the hacker is believed to be operating from Japan or North Korea and is in possession of all the confidential mails from the period of June 2022 to January 2023. What’s worse is that this data is being sold online on the Dark Web for a price of 5 Ethereum (around 6 lakh Rs) for the entire email conversation. Whereas the entire server of the Ministry of External Affairs is being sold at 20 Ethereum (about 25 lakh Rs). Another exclusive investigation revealed that at least 15 senior officials’ user credentials have been leaked. The hackers are also claiming to be in control of around 25 GB data from the foreign ministry. The hacker has even shared confidential email conversations with senior officials from the foreign ministry and their counter parts to the media personnels which seem to be legitimate and prove to be one of the major reasons in conducting this detailed analysis.

2 months ago, another attack was targeted at AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), a reputed medical institute in India which resulted in leaking confidential data for around 3-4 crore patients. The attack led to shutting down their systems for a whole week and their day-to-day operations were affected exposing registration & appointments data, billing details, laboratory reports, and other data storage systems were either frozen or were corrupting the files and the backup modules of the hospital. Media reports suggested that the hacker demanded Rs. 200 crores against the data of these patients which also included the data of many VIPs such as former prime ministers, judges, and MPs among others. A case of extortion and cyber terrorism was reported by the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit of the Delhi Police on 25th November 2022. Although as no ransom was delivered by the institute, there is a high possibility that the data is still in possession of the hackers.

As per the reports, there has been 81% rise in cyber threats since the pandemic. As per a report by cybersecurity firm Acronis, 1 in 2 Indian companies faced cyber-attacks at least once a day amid the pandemic, 16% attacked each hour ! Big giants operating in India such as Razor pay, Amazon, Flipkart, Airtel, Jio Mart, Oil India Ltd, Tech Mahindra, Mobi Kwik, Air India & Domino’s have all been attacked during the period from 2021 to 2022. No company or security measure can guarantee 100% safety, although, a sense of cyber-security awareness within individuals as well as companies can help to reduce their frequency and protect themselves from the knowledge on how to mitigate these risks.

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