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Suspected hack attempt on home ministry's website

13 February 2017

The Union home ministry website was shut down for much of the day on Sunday following a hack attack, even as ministry officials said the shut-down was due to technical problems and that the site would be ready by evening.

Hours after the news broke, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) confirmed that the website had not been hacked and it is blocked due to repair work. "There has been no hacking. The site is under construction, that is why it's down," he said.

The ministry's official website, however, remained inaccessible even past 9pm.

Officials said the National Informatics Centre was looking into the attack, while the Intelligence Bureau, the NIA as well as Delhi Police were trying to ascertain information about the hacker(s).

The suspected hack comes weeks after a similar attack on the website of the National Security Guard (NSG) by suspected Pakistan-based hackers.

If the cyber-attack on the home ministry's website is real, it could be a serious threat to national security as it contains many important daily updates related to security, border management, and foreigners' registration, among other things.

Ministry sources claim the hacking attempt was detected well in time and that the website was not technically hacked.

Giving details of the hack attempts, the ministry said that the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN), which works under the IT ministry, had reported as many as 199 hack attempts on websites of central ministries and departments besides state governments in 2016.

This was the highest in the four years for which data was provided to Parliament in the pre-recess budget session. There were 164 such cases in 2015, 155 in 2014 and 189 in 2013.

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