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Reports: China linked to 40,000+ cyberattacks on India after deadly border brawl

Hacked computer code. (PxHere/Released)
June 24, 2020

India has seen a flood of cyberattacks following a deadly brawl with Chinese troops in the disputed Galwan valley, and cybersecurity experts believe China is directly responsible for the attacks.

On Tuesday, Times Now News reported over 40,000 cyberattack attempts within the previous five days. The publication reported the attacks based on reports from Maharashtra Cyber, the cyber wing for the police of the Indian state of Maharashtra.

“According to our information at least 40,300 cyber attacks were attempted in the last four-five days on the resources in Indian cyberspace,” Yashasvi Yadav, Special Inspector General of Police, cyber wing.

Yadav said the attacks likely originated from the Chinese city of Chengdu.

The primary focus of the attacks involved distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks. DDOS attacks entail flooding a website with artificially created internet traffic. The goal is to slow or disrupt legitimate traffic to a website and deny normal users the ability to access those sites.

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Yadav said that in addition to the DDOS attacks, the cyberattacks also included efforts to hijack internet protocols and steal information through “phishing” attempts.

On Thursday, the Hindustan Times also reported a wave of cyberattacks, citing “intel” sources. The publication reported the cyberattacks could be traced back to the central Chinese city of Chengdu. Chengdu has previously been reported as a headquarters to the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Unit 61398 associated with cyber warfare.

The cyberattacks have reportedly targeted various Indian information sites, including government websites and banking systems, including ATMs.

Last week, Indian and Chinese troops engaged in hand-to-hand fighting in the Galwan Valley, situated in the Ladakh region. The disputed valley rests along the Himalayan mountains where China and India hold overlapping claims to the region, which have caused past diplomatic tensions.

Those tensions met a breaking point when soldiers from the two countries fought in a deadly brawl. 20 Indian soldiers died in the brawl, in which no shots were fired and troops instead threw rocks and resorted to kicking and punching. India has also claimed a proportional number of Chinese casualties in the fight, though China has provided no official assessment of the injuries and deaths it sustained in the brawl.

U.S. intelligence sources have reportedly determined China instigated the fight in an effort to assert a strong diplomatic position with India. The fight appears to have achieved the opposite of India’s desired effect, as India appears more interested in establishing ties with the U.S., following the brawl.

Those same U.S. intelligence sources further assessed China has begun to censor social media posts regarding the incident, and especially those that described the prospect of Chinese casualties as a “defeat” or “humiliation.”