An incident about alleged hacking of BSNL's network by Huawei, a Chinese telecom company, has come to notice, minister of state for communications and IT Kruparani Killi told concerned members of the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
A team of top officials, comprising officials from the National Security Council Secretariat, Intelligence Bureau, Union home ministry and BSNL, has been formed to investigate into the hacking and suggest remedial measures.
The telecom ministry was informed in October 2013 about unauthorised access to BSNLs mobile towers in coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh although the hacking was attributed to engineers of the company.
BSNL had awarded a major part of its network expansion tender of about 10.15 million lines to another Chinese company ZTE in 2012.
The probe team will ascertain whether this is an inter-corporate rivalry between the two Chinese telecom companies. A source said the telecom department had sought a detailed report from BSNL following the alleged hacking of its network but the state-run entity, in its report, understandably did not furnish all details.
About two years ago a Parliamentary panel had cautioned the government that it should test the telecom equipment for security, as Chinese companies were emerging as biggest suppliers of hardware and software to Indian firms. It had has asked the government to consider USA's warning that dealing with Chinese firms can have serious security implications.
A panel of US lawmakers on intelligence warned of cyber espionage threats through telecom networks built by Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE, a charge strongly denied by both the Chinese companies.