Tensions between Beijing and Delhi soared last June after troops clashed at the Line of Actual Control. More than 20 military personnel were killed and relations between the two nuclear powers remain on the brink. Just four months later, much of Mumbai was plunged into darkness following a mysterious power outage.
On October 13, 2020, 20 million people in the city were left without electricity, the stock market closed down and trains ground to a halt.
A new study has claimed the clashes at the border and the power cut could be related.
Research by cybersecurity firm Recorded Future claimed, after the border clashes, Chinese malware had been flowing into control systems managing electricity supplies across India.
The firm found the malware was never activated – but their discovery could serve as a stark warning to Delhi.
Stuart Solomon, Recorded Future’s chief operating officer, said Beijing “has been seen to systematically utilise advanced cyberintrusion techniques to quietly gain a foothold in nearly a dozen critical nodes across the Indian power generation and transmission infrastructure”.
Officials in India had signalled China were to blame for a cyber-attack on a load management centre.
Retired Lieutenant General D.S. Hooda claims Beijing was flexing its muscles by indicating it has the “capability to do this in times of a crisis”.
He added: “It’s like sending a warning to India that this capability exists with us.”
General Mooda and other security experts have lobbied Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to rely other countries to power its network.
He added: “The issue is we still haven’t been able to get rid of our dependence on foreign hardware and foreign software.”
India has launched a formal investigation in the power outage with a report due to be published in the coming weeks.
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Last week, the officials in India and China agreed to pull back troops from the border, however, promises of a scale-back have not been fulfilled.
In a statement, India’s foreign ministry said: “Once disengagement is completed at all friction points, then the two sides could also look at broader de-escalation of troops in the area and work towards the restoration of peace and tranquillity.”
Ministers will now hold further talks to end close proximity deployments in other parts of border region.