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Govt orders probe into cyber attack on DRDO

Chethan Kumar, Bangalore, March 14, 2013, DHNS 0:34 IST

This is not the first time the Ministry of Defence has been targeted by hackers

Fluttered by reports that computers of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) having highly sensitive information were hacked by Chinese hackers, the Centre has initiated a probe into the issue on Wednesday.

This is not the first time the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has landed itself in such a situation, but it has always maintained about putting in place mechanisms to avoid such attacks.

While the intelligence agencies investigating the matter will look into various aspects, it is high time the DRDO did a thorough introspection.

It is common knowledge that several projects have remained in the pipeline for many years. To add to that list is an ambitious project to develop the country’s first Operating System (OS). The DRDO was entrusted with the responsibility of developing India’s first OS in late 2010.

The project was sanctioned in the backdrop of several perceived threats, especially from the cyber world, and the OS was supposed to secure systems used by the armed forces and several other government agencies.

“Depending on OS widely used the world over for key operations has potential threats and hence we have been entrusted with the responsibility of developing an indigenous OS,” a senior DRDO official had said.

As part of the project, software development centres have been set up in Bangalore and New Delhi. While the primary responsibility of these centres is to develop the OS, several other software-related activities will be undertaken subsequently.

Earlier, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister V K Saraswat had told Deccan Herald that about 150 scientists/engineers from across the country were working on the project and that it assumes significance in a country like India which faces several perceived cyber threats.

“The scientists/engineers are from various DRDO laboratories from across the country and we have also involved industry players and academic institutions like the IISc and IIT, Chennai,” another source said.

While the DRDO had not committed itself to any deadline during the launch, the organisation, since late last year maintains that it will take another three years to complete the project. “The issues we have to deal with are complex. The OS is being developed indigenously and it is our priority that the system is fool-proof,” another official said.

Answering a specific question from Deccan Herald last month, Saraswat had said: “The objective is to reduce or completely avoid the use of foreign systems for sensitive operations. It will be ready soon.”

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