Indian Navy Computers Attacked By Malware-Ridden USBs

The Indi­an navy has been left lick­ing its wounds after sus­pect­ed Chi­nese hack­ers man­aged to lift clas­si­fied data from max­i­mum secu­ri­ty, non-inter­net con­nect­ed PCs via mal­ware hid­den on USB dri­ves.

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The Indi­an East­ern Naval Com­mand – which is cur­rent­ly over­see­ing tri­als of the country’s first nuclear mis­sile sub­ma­rine, INS Ari­hant – was the tar­get of the attacks, which were first dis­cov­ered at the start of the year, accord­ing to the Indi­an Express.

A “per­son famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion” revealed to the paper that thumb dri­ves were found at the site. These were appar­ent­ly infect­ed with mal­ware which, once placed in the stand­alone com­put­ers, covert­ly col­lect­ed infor­ma­tion accord­ing to cer­tain key­words.

These doc­u­ments remained hid­den on a secret fold­er on the USB until it was con­nect­ed to an inter­net-enabled PC again, when they were sent to cer­tain IP address­es traced to Chi­na.

Although there is no con­clu­sive proof that these IP address­es were the final des­ti­na­tion of the stolen doc­u­ments, Chi­na has been accused many times in the past of sim­i­lar mil­i­tary-led cyber espi­onage attacks.

Just last month fears sur­faced that a lap­top which went miss­ing from a Tai­wanese mis­sile boat was half-inched by a Chi­nese spy after the navy admit­ted secu­ri­ty at the base where the boat was moored was not as tight as it should have been.

The Indi­an East­ern Naval Com­mand is also charged with over­see­ing oper­a­tions in the South Chi­na Sea, a region which is high­ly sen­si­tive polit­i­cal­ly for Chi­na and one which has recent­ly seen an esca­la­tion in ten­sions over its ter­ri­to­r­i­al claims.

The report claims six offi­cers are await­ing strict dis­ci­pli­nary action after the inci­dent, although there is no men­tion that any of them may have been act­ing mali­cious­ly.

The Indi­an gov­ern­ment has final­ly been roused into action by the increas­ing threat to its nation­al secu­ri­ty from cyber space, recent­ly announc­ing plans to cre­ate a 24-hour Nation­al Crit­i­cal Infor­ma­tion Infra­struc­ture Pro­tec­tion Cen­tre (NCIPC) to mon­i­tor threats.

More con­tro­ver­sial­ly, it has also been final­is­ing plans which would autho­rise two agen­cies to car­ry out state-spon­sored attacks if called upon.


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