Was China Behind Mumbai’s Power Failure in October 2020?

We discuss whether India’s critical infrastructure is vulnerable to cyber attacks from foreign actors.

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Amidst arguably tense border situations between India and China, a recent study by a US company, named Recorded Future, published on 1 March claimed that last year's massive power outage in Mumbai, which grounded the entire city for nearly 24 hours in October amid the pandemic, was a result of an alleged cyber attack by a Chinese state backed hacking group. This story was first reported by The New York Times on 1 March.

According to the study, Recorded Future observed an increase in targeted cyber intrusion from mid-2020, by Chinese state sponsored groups on critical Indian civil infrastructures organisations.

While the report has given evidence of the Chinese malware intrusions in India, it has stated the link between the power outage and the intrusions remains “unsubstantiated”.

While the Centre has stated that there has been no evidence of a possible Chinese involvement, the Maharashtra government has launched an inquiry into the issue. China, on the other hand, has denied the comments of it trying to bully India and have stated that such claims were “irresponsible”.

How vulnerable is India's critical infrastructure to cyber attacks from foreign threat actors? And what would be the perceived benefit of attacking India’s civil infrastructure?

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