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Italian intelligence steals sensitive info from Indian embassy

Last updated: 30 July, 2011
Moscow, Jul 30, (PTI): 19:13 IST

Sensitive defence information appears to have been stolen from the Indian embassy here by an Italian intelligence agency during the past two years, according to a media report.

If the documents released by international hackers' group are to be believed, the Italian cyber police - National Anti-Crime Computer Centre for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CNAIPIC) - was widely hacking Indian embassy's letters with Russian defence firms, the Izvestia daily said.

Anonymous Hackers for AntiSec operation, an international group campaigning against security agencies and governments, had on July 26 put online a set of documents allegedly hacked from the Italian cyber police server, which include the letters between the Indian embassy's Air Wing and a local company supplying spares for military aircraft.

Izvestia said Italian cyber police had hacked on June 22, 2010 Deputy Air Attache D S Shekhavat's correspondence with Aviazapchast, a company specialising in the supply of aviation spares, complaining about delays in the shipment of 15 helicopter engines.
A reply from the Aviazapchast representative in India written on the same day was also hacked by the CNAIPIC.

The Italian cyber police had also accessed correspondence of the aircraft engine manufacturer NPO Saturn and Ilyushin Aircraft with the Indian embassy in Moscow and the Air Headquarters in New Delhi.

Indian embassy's Counsellor Information Nutan Kapur Mahawar had no comments to offer on the report.

The files put online reveal that besides the Indo- Russian defence cooperation the CNAIPIC widely targeted correspondence of Russian nuclear and hydrocarbon majors like 'Atomstroieksport' and 'Gazprom', Izvestia reported.

The Aviazapchast spokesman told the daily that there was no leakages from the company and the letters had been stolen from the Indians.

Izvestia was inclined to believe in this as Indian embassy cellphone bills from local Beeline provider that were among the hacked documents accessed by it including the bill dated February 28, 2011, containing a printout of all telephone numbers called or SMSed by the Indian embassy staff.

Although from the report it was evident that Russian energy majors and not Indian embassy were the prime targets of the economic intelligence by the Italians, including on the construction of Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, but in the past the Indian mission here has been the target of cyber attack.

In April 2010, the Indian Embassy here has boosted its cyber security in the wake of a report about alleged Chinese cyber espionage by infecting scores of Indian government and defence related sites by malwares to steal the confidential information.

Then the US and Canada based Information Warfare Monitor and Shadowservers Foundation in their report 'Shadows in the Cloud' had traced China's Chengdu based servers of exfiltering sensitive information from the Indian computers, including Indian missions in Moscow, London and Washington.

Commenting on the report, a section of Russia media had raised concerns about sensitive and secret information about Moscow and New Delhi's defence cooperation falling into the Chinese hands.

At that time the Indian embassy here confirmed that at least two attacks were traced to Chinese servers, but denied leakage of any confidential information.

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