Alarming breach: Nagpur’s Solar Industries, making military weapons, hit by cyber attack

Now, classified information on ammunition, rocket audits & engineering plans on sale on the dark web of a hackers group BlackCat or ALPHV

Nagpur: The Nagpur-based Solar Industries Limited, one of the manufacturers and suppliers of defence equipment, faced a cyber attack and now the company’s sensitive data is online for sale, according to reports.

While there is no official word from the firm, Solar Industries India Limited, the breach was confirmed by a researcher at Bengaluru-based cybersecurity firm CloudSEK which keeps an eye on cybersecurity incidents.

According to reports, a hackers group, BlackCat or ALPHV, launched a ransomware attack on Solar Industries Limited (SIL). Classified information like drawings, engineering specifications and audits of Pinaka rockets, Brahmos, Akash, several warheads, mines, bombs and other sensitive defence products have ended up on the darknet for the highest bidders to buy. The hackers claim to have stolen 2TB data from the company’s server at Nagpur

Though an offence was registered and agencies started acting on war footing, some of the material has appeared for sale on the darknet.

The reports said that new websites first reported that the audit reports of many weapons, including Rocket Pinaka MK-1, ADM-1, propellant Pinaka MK-II Enhanced, propellant Pinaka MK-2 Guided, and such detailed information was stolen. Online media also underlined that the details of warhead composition, technical power, company’s contract with the army and other customers, blueprints and engineering details of many weapons, explosives, boosters, propellant and bombs were among the stolen data.

Unconfirmed reports said records from cameras, office backups, audit reports of flaws and vulnerabilities were also compromised. Even detailed information about armament supply chains to various sources was stolen. The personal information about employees and management of the company too was laid bare.

An offence was registered at the city Cyber police station, invoking sections of extortion under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The case is now set to be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

After the matter came to fore, senior officials of the Ministry of Defence, Home Affairs, and intelligence agencies assembled in Nagpur and are monitoring the case now. The company officials learnt about the hacking on January 21 on receiving threats that the data would be sold. The security agencies were immediately alerted.

According to reports, after the monetary negotiations with the hackers failed, the hacker group immediately flashed the most sensitive stolen data on the dark web, inviting bidding ‘within 24 hours’ and asked interested persons to approach them through TOR.

SIL started as a manufacturer of explosives for the mining industry. Over the last 10 years, it has diversified into making defence explosives also and emerged as the leading private player in making ammunition. The defence business is undertaken through its fully owned subsidiary.

Lately, Solar supplied boosters for Brahmos missiles and also the PSLV, and has also developed a satellite, Vikram I, in association with Hyderabad’s Skyroot Aerospace, in which the group has a stake. This is said to be the biggest ever project outside ISRO.

Solar is the first private company to get an order to make hand grenades for the Indian Army, and the first batch was flagged off by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Solar is also developing the advanced versions of Pinaka rockets, which are among the latest artillery weapon systems of the army. The company has also indigenized the 30mm ammunition for naval guns recently.

“This leaked information poses a threat to the confidentiality of the weapons used by the Indian military which can be misused by motivated adversaries for gaining a strategic advantage against India,” the reports said.