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Initial probe into October 12 Mumbai power outage suggests it was sabotage, malware detected at the load dispatch centre

A month-long probe by the cyber cell officials has detected the presence of multiple "suspicious logins" into servers connected with power supply and transmission utilities

 

The power outage that occurred across Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai last month are a result of a sophisticated sabotage attempt to target country’s power utilities, reports Mumbai Mirror quoting govt sources.

According to the reports, a month-long probe by the cyber cell officials has detected the presence of multiple “suspicious logins” into servers connected with power supply and transmission utilities. The investigation carried out by Maharashtra Police’s cyber cell has revealed that the power outage might be a result of a sophisticated sabotage attempt involving foreign entities.

Several accounts that tried to ‘log in’ to servers were traced were from Singapore and a few other South Asian countries. These hackers have been trying to target the country’s power utilities since February.

Infusion of malware into state load dispatch centre, says initial probe

The Maharashtra cyber department said that in their initial investigation they have traced the infusion of malware at the Padgha-based state load dispatch centre. The state load dispatch controls power transmission and manages load dispatch to various areas across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) covering the Mumbai City, Thane district and Navi Mumbai.

The load dispatch center works on an automated system where data is monitored and could have been attacked.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Police is coordinating with national agencies to find out whether these “intrusions, interferences” were part of a planned attack aimed at hurting India’s financial capital.

The Maharashtra energy minister Nitin Raut is expected to provide details of the investigation in coming days.

Similar to attacks on power distribution networks, in June, a swarm of 40,000-plus hacking attacks by non-state actors allegedly from China was detected, who had used a type of malware to access and then encrypt sensitive data of targeted private and public entities.

Mumbai Power outage

On October 12, Mumbai and suburban areas witnessed power outage because of a grid failure bringing the city, including its local trains, to a complete halt. The authorities took two hours to restore the power supply to resume essential services.

TATA Power, the power supplier for Mumbai, had informed that there was simultaneous substation tripping in MSETCL’s Kalwa, Kharghar causing a huge dip in frequency in Mumbai transmission system which led to tripping of power supply. 

The  Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) procures electricity from Tata Power from transformer in Kawla and Pardha. This is the major transformer that is the main supply line that provides 350 MW electricity to Mumbai. Tata also provides electricity to Adani power which then distributes outside city limits, while BEST provides power inside the city.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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