Hackers have penetrated India's naval computer systems in and around the city of Visakhaptnam, the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command, and planted a bug which sent sensitive data to IP addresses in China, a report says.
According to The Indian Express on Sunday, the naval computers were found to be infected with the virus and noted that India’s first nuclear missile submarine, INS Arihant, was currently undergoing trials at the facility.
The virus had reportedly created a hidden folder, collected specific files and documents based on certain "key words" it had been programmed to identify, and remained hidden on the pen drives until they were put in computers connected to the Internet, after which the bug quietly sent files to the specific IP addresses, sources explained to the news site.
The extent of loss however, is still undergoing investigations, and it was "premature at this stage" to comment on the sensitivity of the compromised data, officials noted.
“An inquiry has been convened and findings of the report are awaited. It needs to be mentioned that there is a constant threat in the cyber domain from inimical hackers worldwide,” officials stated, adding that at least six mid-level officers had been indicted for procedural lapses which led to the breach.
India's navy, and other armed forces, typically stores sensitive data in standalone computers which are not connected to the Internet, and these computers are not supposed to have ports or access points for flash drives or external storage devices, sources noted.
This is not the first time viruses had been found to steal and send data to China. In June, ESET Security had discovered a worm, which targets and steals files running AutoCAD software and sent them to e-mail accounts located in China, leading them to conclude the malware was designed for industrial espionage.