New Delhi: In what may be a major cyber-war offensive that sent the security establishment into a tizzy, the websites of a few Union ministries, including ministry of defence (MoD), the ministry of home affairs (MHA), and the law and labour ministries were possibly “hacked” on Friday afternoon.
The MoD’s homepage, which was brought down at about 2 pm, showed up a blank page with a single Chinese character for some time while the MHA homepage said it was offline due to technical issues.
Reacting to the development, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted: “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.” Defence ministry officials also said there were strong indications that organised hackers may be behind the effort and were possibly involved in defacing the MoD website.
On the other hand, National Cyber Security chief coordinator Gulshan Rai blamed it a storage system hardware failure. Mr Rai told this newspaper: “There is no cyber attack. There is no hacking of any government website.”
Denying that the MHA site had been broken into, an official spokesperson said the National Informatics Centre, which hosts the MHA site, is upgrading the security system of the website and taking extra precautions leading to its temporary suspension.
“As of now, both the possibilities—of a deliberate hacking and of technical issues in the Central Management System—appear equally plausible. The situation and the causes will be clear only after some time,” said Rohit Srivastwa, an information security expert who actively collaborates with the government and police on cyber crimes.