14 Trojan horses found in servers, says Minister

‘Suspicious codes that can affect the cybersecurity ecosystem at the State Load Dispatch Center had found its way into the system’

Published - March 03, 2021 10:53 pm IST - Mumbai

Commuters on a railway track in Mumbai after the power outage last year.

Commuters on a railway track in Mumbai after the power outage last year.

Two days after Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh submitted a report prepared by the State’s cyber cell on a possible cyberattack that caused the October 12 power outage in Mumbai and parts of Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Power Minister Nitin Raut on Wednesday said the report found 14 Trojan horse programs that had entered the Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company (MAHATRANSCO) servers.

“According to observations in the report, the firewalls of the information technology [IT] and operational technology [OT] servers, which are essential for power transmission, were affected by these Trojan horses. Suspicious codes and software programs that can affect the cybersecurity ecosystem at the State Load Dispatch Center [SLDC] at Kalva had found its way into the system,” Mr. Raut said in a statement in the State Assembly.

Similar Trojan horse programs were part of bigger cyberattacks in the past, he added.

“Three alarms were sounded in a span of less than a minute, but were not given attention to show the possibility of a cyberattack,” he said, referring to the report.

The Minister said repeated attempts were made from blacklisted and suspicious IP addresses to log in to the SLDC server, and to hack and disrupt the system. “Credit rating agencies have certified these IP addresses as suspicious and disruptive,” he said, adding that an attempt was made to either insert or remove around 8 GB of data from the server using the IP addresses.

According to the Minister, the report recommended a separation of the IT and OT infrastructure and an updation, password management, enhancement of the web application security and a strengthening of the cyber system of the SLDC.

Committee formed

In addition to the investigation conducted by the State cyber cell, a technical committee, which included experts from IIT-Bombay, VNIT- Nagpur, VJTI-Mumbai and senior officials from the Power Department, was formed.

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) have also formed a committee of experts.

“These committees, too, have recommended strengthening the transmission system and the use of state-of-the-art technology, among other things. We will consider this and takes steps, including strengthening the Mumbai islanding system, setting up a 400 KV sub-station at Vikroli, the availability of 1,000 MW extra power for the MMR and an increase in gas-based power creation at Uran,” he said.

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