Suspected state-sponsored Chinese hackers have targeted the power sector in India in the past few months as part of an apparent cyberespionage campaign, the threat intelligence firm Recorded Future Inc said in a report published on Wednesday.
The hackers focused on at least seven “load dispatch” centers in northern India that are responsible for carrying out real-time operations for grid control and electricity dispersal in areas near the disputed India-China border in Ladakh, the report said.
One of the load dispatch centers was once a target of another hacking group, RedEcho, which Recorded Future said shares “strong overlaps” with a hacking group that the US has tied to the Chinese government.
“The prolonged targeting of Indian power grid assets by Chinese state-linked groups offers limited economic espionage or traditional intelligence gathering opportunities,” the report said.
“We believe this is instead likely intended to enable information gathering surrounding critical infrastructure and/or pre-positioning for future activity,” it said
Additionally, the hackers compromised an Indian national emergency response system and a subsidiary of a multinational logistics company, the report said.
The hacking group, dubbed TAG-38, has used a kind of malicious software called ShadowPad, which was previously associated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of State Security, it said.
The report did not identify the victims by name.
The method the attackers used to make the intrusions — using compromised Internet of Things devices and cameras — was unusual, Recorded Future senior manager Jonathan Condra said, adding that the devices used to launch the intrusions were based in South Korea and Taiwan.
Beijing has consistently denied involvement in malicious cyberactivity.
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