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China hackers targeted NTPC infrastructure just days back: US outfit | India News

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NEW DELHI: The intrusion into India’s power plant infrastructure by Chinese state-backed hacker group Red Echo continues. The last such activity was noticed as recently as February 28 and this was revealed on Tuesday at a webinar by US-based cyber security organisation Recorded Future.
“We have observed significant, sustained, high-volume traffic from Indian power sector assets to Red Echo infrastructure… The Red Echo infrastructure is still active, with the last observation on February 28, with communication to NTPC infrastructure,” said Charity Wright, a researcher with Recorded Future’s threat analysis department, Insikt Group. After a malware is planted, the compromised system starts communicating with the hacker’s server.
On March 1, the Massachusetts-based organisation had released a report about Red Echo attempts to “infiltrate” India’s power plants by planting a malware identified as ShadowPad in at least 10 power plants and two seaports.
As per Wright, Red Echo’s activity was first noticed in October 2020. Recorded Future informed the Indian government about the intrusion on October 10, just two days before a major power outage impacted Mumbai and surrounding areas. “We have been tracking their malicious infrastructure since October 2020. But there is no evidence to suggest that the Maharashtra state power plant failure was linked to Red Echo,” Wright said.
Cyber security experts in India said the rising instances of these intrusions are cause for concern. “We don’t know what system had been compromised; it could have been a harmless administrative server. This needs to be taken seriously as it could basically mean China is prepositioning itself in case (political) conditions deteriorate,” said cyber-politico expert Jiten Jain. “The government, going forward, has asserted that it will not use Chinese parts in sectors like power and telecom. But the existing infrastructure is flooded with Chinese parts. They pose a threat and nobody seems to be talking about that,” Jain said.
The intrusion, as per Wright, could not have led to any economic gains. “The group was preparing for future operations. They were basically communicating their capability to the adversary (India). By hiding in India’s (critical) infrastructure, they wanted to convey that they had control over Indian assets if they made another move (against China),” he said.

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