Centre for Internet & Society

Defence Minister orders probe.

The article was published in the Hindu Businessline on April 6, 2018. Sunil Abraham was quoted.

In a sudden outage on Friday, a few key government websites went down, sending officials into a tizzy as rumours of a widespread hacking of portals created panic across the corridors of power.

The Ministry of Defence website was the first to go down, with Chinese characters being displayed on the portal’s homepage. Thereafter, one after another, the websites of the Ministries of Home Ministry, Law and Labour and of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) went down.

All the sites were restored by late evening. Late in the day, the National Informatics Centre confirmed that the sites were not hacked. “The site showed what appeared to be a Chinese character and it was understandable that the site was perceived to be hacked . However, it has since been identified that the sites have not been hacked,” an NIC release said.

‘Technical snag’




While the IT Ministry tried to downplay the issue and said that the websites had not been hacked, and that it was a “technical snag”, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she had ordered a probe into the matter, hinting that it may have been a case of hacking.

“Action is initiated after the hacking of MoD website (http://mod.nic.in). The website shall be restored shortly. Needless to say, every possible step required to prevent any such eventuality in the future will be taken,” Sitharaman said in a tweet.

This is not first time that Indian government websites faced an outage. The government had informed the Lok Sabha earlier this year that over 700 websites linked to the Central and State governments were hacked in the past four years. In February last year, the website of the Ministry of Home Affairs was hacked.

“Compromising a government website is a low-value attack, but results in a big win for the attackers in the battle over perception,” Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, Centre for Internet and Society told BusinessLine. “This usually happens because the server administrator has not configured the software stack properly or is not installing all the security updates in a timely fashion.”

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