Amid heightened tensions between China and India, the latter said it would check all imported power equipment coming from China for malware and other cyberweapons, Indian media report.
“Power is a very sensitive and strategic sector for any country. Electricity runs all industries, communication systems and all databases including strategic ones and so we have to guard it against any sabotage by countries which are adversaries or possible adversaries,” said Power Minister RK Singh, commenting on the reports.
Malware and Trojan horses can be used to cause grid failures, which would affect negatively economic activity in India, Singh also said.
India’s power sector has reportedly faced an increase in cyberattacks recently, with the majority of them coming from China, Singapore, Russia, and Central Asian states. To reduce the risk of such cyberattacks that use power equipment, the Indian government will propose to employ a combination of higher tariffs, stringent tests of imported equipment, and what the Business Times called “prior permission requirements for imports from adversary countries.”
The prior permission will be required for so-called adversary countries that want to export power equipment to India. These are mostly India’s neighbors, including Pakistan and China.
“We have reports that malware and Trojan horse can be installed which can be activated remotely to bring down the power sector and the economy,” Singh said. “So we have decided, because it is a sensitive sector, whatever equipment is made in India, we will purchase them. And those that are not made in India, we will import but check thoroughly to rule out the presence of any malware or Trojan horse.”
The relationship between India and China has always been shaky but a recent flare-up of tensions on the border between the two became the most violent in 50 years, since China and India fought a war to establish where exactly this border would pass. Both countries are nuclear powers, which has worried the UN, who has called on Beijing and New Delhi to “exercise maximum restraint”.