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India plays down ISRO breach by suspected North Korean hackers

The news transpired when India’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu also faced a cyber attack last week.
Published November 7, 2019
  • The news transpired when India’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu also faced a cyber attack last week.
  • Recent cyber attacks have raised suspicion that suspects could steal technology and disrupt the operations.
  • Cyber security company official says five other Indian agencies had faced such attacks in the past.

(Karachi) North Korean hackers are suspected to have breached India's space agency through cyber attack that took place in September during India's unsuccessful Chandrayaan-2 moon mission.  The suspected involvement of North Korea in the cyber attack is being portrayed by India to appear less important than it really is, Financial Times reported on Thursday.

Cyber security consultants with data on the incidents said the Indian Space Research Organization was warned of the cyber attack.

The news transpired when India’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu also faced a cyber attack last week.

An official at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) confirmed that it was warned regarding a cyber attack but found nothing suspicious after investigation.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India initially issued a similar denial following reports the Kudankulam plant had been hacked before clarifying that malware had entered one of its networks.

He said, “Our systems were not compromised and our systems were not affected.”

He added, “We have an internal network which is 100 percent isolated from the internet.”

Founder of Security Brigade, a cyber security company in Mumbai, Yash Kadakia said in recent months, the space authority was not the first government agency which had been targeted.

He said at least five other agencies, including the country’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board had faced such attacks in the past.

He stated that 13 of the top space and atomic energy officials received phishing emails. He pointed out that he reviewed data from the server that had been hacked by the suspects.

“This is not really rocket science, it wasn't really anything cutting edge, it was a phishing email, an unpatched browser and a lack of monitoring,” Kadakia remarked.

Recent cyber attacks by suspected North Korean hackers have sent a wave of concern among the nuclear powers around the world that fear the suspects could steal technology and disrupt the operations despite foolproof security measures.

The cyber attack incidents are a blow to Narendra Modi, who had showcased India as a nuclear power and a champion in space power.

Sohn Young-dong, a defense expert at Hanyang University in Seoul, said that Pyongyang may be using the nuclear technology attacks to overcome its own energy crisis, as well as aiming to "sell such information to countries" like Iran.

"In designs and manuals that were published and that the hackers intended to cause a malfunction of nuclear reactors, but failed to break into their control system," he stated.


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