The computer network within the Ministry of External Affairs has been broken into, allegedly by Chinese hackers, government sources told
India’s relations with China are delicately poised with the Tibet issue gaining centre-stage internationally, but the alleged hacking predates the current crisis, the sources added. Officially, the MEA refused to either deny or confirm the reports.
The hackers broke into MEA’s internal communications network, possibly accessing e-mails through which officials communicate policy and decisions across the ministry’s offices in India and in our foreign missions.
The communication with foreign missions is supposedly encrypted and secure. But breaking into the system would enable a hacker to ‘listen in’ on the internal confabulations of policy-making.
Hackers break into a network by using programmes and writing software to decrypt the system, says security systems expert Ashish Bhatia. “It is the work of specialized hackers. They would have written programmes to bypass the security systems installed.”
The Chinese government had denied similar charges in June last year when they were accused of hacking into a system at the Pentagon, the US defence headquarters. Beijing has reportedly made offensive cyberwar capability one of its strategic priorities.