NEW DELHI: While the threat to India’s strategic cyber assets by hackers from Pakistan and China is a known phenomenon, of late, in what is being perceived as a new phenomenon by cyber security experts, India’s government departments have been facing breaches from hackers in Iran.
According to highly placed sources, in recent weeks several government departments, including defence, banking, state police departments, education, telecom, and private IT companies have come under attack by Iranian hackers. Sources say that most of these attacks have been observed in Kerala, followed by New Delhi. Similar cyber attacks were also observed in states such as Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra.
Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs say that experts have been roped in to deal with a new wave of ransomware attacks whose sources have been traced back to Iran. A senior official told the New Indian Express that the nature of attacks being faced increasingly from Iran is described in cyber security parlance as ‘lock and leak’ operations. In these attacks the hackers lock down an online system completely by using ransomware, download the sensitive information from the system, and then blackmail the victims into paying ransom to the hackers, failing which the attackers release the data on the Dark Web.
Last year, in November, Microsoft had released a statement warning countries and private companies across the world of the growing prevalence of Iranian hackers. According to the report released by Microsoft Threat Intelligence Centre and Digital Security Unit, hacker groups based in Iran were increasingly targeting Indian companies in the IT space, along with firms in Israel and the UAE.