On Friday, at least 10 of the Indian government websites, including that of Defense, Law and Justice, Home Affairs, and Labour went down. When trying to gain access, the browser showed some Mandarin characters raising the speculations on security breach by Chinese hackers.
The shocking news of the Indian Defense Ministry website hacking raised some serious alarms in the ministry, causing Defense minister Nirmal Sitharaman, to release an official response on twitter that said “Action is initiated after the hacking of MoD website. The website shall be restored shortly. Needless to say, every possible step required to prevent any such eventuality in the future will be taken.”
On further investigations, however, it was found that the Mandarin characters were actually the logo of Drupal’s content management tool- Zen, Drupal being the platform on which the website was built. The logo was there as a part of the error message that gets displayed during the downtime.
The real reason for the downtime was attributed to some hardware issues that affected at least four of the ministry websites by 21:00 hrs, as was disclosed by NIC (National Informatics Centre).
It is worth noting that the hardware issue in the network systems was detected by the officials in the afternoon itself so the officials were already working to sort it out. In an interview with Times of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union minister for Electronics and Information Technology has said, “It was a minor malfunction between the data centre and the system gateway and has been set right. It was not at all a case of hacking, much less any Chinese intrusion”
Given security breaches are happening more often than ever before, it’s no wonder that in this instance speculations immediately rose about a computer hacking. However has this gone one step too far and are we being over sensitive about our security systems? In this case it could be argued that when it comes to private data within the government’s possession, nothing should be overlooked and every tiny detail must be measured.