Government officials ordered to use NIC email for communications amid Chinese cyberattacks
Indian government officials have been ordered to use organisation-specific email-IDs for all official communications.
Chinese hackers have been targeting India's critical infrastructure like power grids which could cause widespread blackouts. And amid all this, the Union power ministry has ordered all government organisations under it to use “organisation-specific email-ID” for all official communications. The Union power ministry sent out an office memorandum on June 22 that said - “The undersigned is directed to refer to the prevailing cyber vulnerability due to various cyber threats/malicious attempts made by hackers and to request that all organizations under the ministry of power ensure their officials use NIC email/organization-specific official email-id only for official communications."
These orders come in the backdrop of a hacker group affiliated to the Chinese government, Red Echo, repeatedly targeting control rooms that manage India's critical power grids. The constant attempts being made by Red Echo could have lead to widespread blackouts, however, the hackers failed to infiltrate the systems and no data breach was detected, the power ministry said in a statement. “lt is also to be ensured that classified document is not sent by email. lt has been observed that a large number of officials are still using Gmail and Yahoo accounts for official correspondence," the memorandum from the power ministry said. According to older Mint reports, India has been looking to raise its voice against the threats posed by Chinese hackers targeting the country's infrastructure on a global stage.
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The National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), the firm that oversees India's cybersecurity operations in critical sectors, send out an alert on February 12 this year about Red Echo targeting regional load dispatch centres (RLDCs) and state load dispatch centres (SLDCs). While China has refuted all these allegation as “rumours and slander", India's power sector has reported at least 30 cyberattacks daily for a while now, according to reports from 2019. These numbers have probably gone up now, particularly since most people started working from home due to the pandemic starting last year.
With the government officials being ordered to use organisation-specific email IDs for communications, it is being believed that this will keep their communications and important information secure and prevent the hackers from getting access to them.