Indian telcos brace for possible cyberattacks from China

bharti airtel
Image credit | CasPhotography

Indian telcos operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio are upping their efforts to increase network security anticipating a potential surge in cyberattacks such as DDoS (distributed denial of service), phishing and malware attacks after the recent skirmish between India and China forces at the Indo-China border.

Bharti Airtel has already reached out to its enterprise customers and urged them to take proactive steps in the wake of growing cyber threats. 

The Sunil Mittal-led telco said it has witnessed an increase in such cyber activity during its security operations and has now upgraded its SOC to a higher threat-level status for the next 5-7 days.

“We have come across media reports on the potential surge in cyber-attacks such as DDoS, malware attacks, and defacement of websites. We have also witnessed an increase in such cyber activity during our security operations. These attacks threaten to not only disrupt critical business operations but also impact your brand’s reputation,” Airtel’s security team said in an email to its enterprise customers.

In its communication, Airtel urged enterprise customers to take measures such as monitoring traffic from neighboring countries; monitoring network traffic for all channels, including emails; installing updated patches on all assets/webpages accessible via the internet, and advising employees working from home to update anti-virus and software patches.

Vodafone Idea has also informed the Indian media that it has “appropriately used” the intelligence received from the Government of India to increase vigilance and enhance security. 

Vodafone Idea said that its network and IT systems are periodically audited and further strengthened to keep its network protected and customer data secure. 

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio reportedly enhanced its vigilance levels and is keeping a close watch on traffic.

Chinese hacker groups are targeting telecom companies Reliance Jio, Airtel, BSNL and entities like the Defence Ministry, Cipla, Sun Pharma, MRF, and L&T, a Singapore-based cyber threat intelligence firm Cyfirma Research said in its report.

The Indian government has also issued an advisory after reports of DDOS attacks on Indian information websites and India’s financial payments system. India’s cybersecurity nodal agency, Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), has also issued an advisory warning of the potential phishing attacks that could impersonate government agencies, departments and trade bodies.

CERT-In, in its advisory, said that attackers are likely to send malicious e-mails under the pretext of being local authorities that are in charge of dispensing government-funded COVID-19 support initiatives. 
“Such e-mails are designed to drive recipients towards fake websites where they are deceived into downloading malicious files or entering personal and financial information.”

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