Chinese hackers bypass Indian navy computers, extracts sensitive data via malware hidden in USBs drives

Suspected Chinese hackers have burgled into sensitive naval computers in Visakhapatnam, the Eastern Naval Command headquartered and managed to import classified data from maximum security, non internet connected PCs through malware hidden in USBs drives.

The amount of the loss is still being ascertained, and naval officials said to media persons that it was “premature at this stage” to comment on the sensitivity of the compromised data. However, the Navy has completed a Board of Inquiry (BoI) which is believed to have indicted at least six mid-level officers for procedural lapses that led to the security breach.

According to media reports thumb drives were found at the site.These thumb drives were apparently infected with malware which, once placed in the standalone computers, secretly collected information according to certain keywords. These documents remained hidden on a secret folder on the USB until it was connected to an internet-enabled PC again, when they were sent to certain IP addresses traced to China.

The Eastern Naval Command headquartered in Visakhapatnam plans operations and deployments in the South China Sea — the ground of recent muscle-flexing by Beijing over its territorial claims. In addition to that, India’s first nuclear missile submarine, INS Arihant, is presently going through trials at the Command.

Even though there is no concrete evidence that these IP addresses were the final destination of the stolen documents, China has been accused time and again in the past of similar military-led cyber espionage attacks.