Bengaluru, Nov 18: Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) said on Tuesday that it lost no sensitive information, following the hacking of one of its email IDs on Monday. It was on Monday evening that the members of national media received an email from HAL's Corporate Communication department with a one-line message.
The link in the mail ("Watch this article' with URL http://220.127.116.11/) failed to open making it evident that the account has been hacked. The emails to the media got generated from HAL's email ID email@example.com.
HAL said that the email was never used to transfer any sensitive information. "It acted as one of our channels to communicate with the media. We operate through official IDs as well, but for the convenience of the media, we have been keeping the gmail account active. It's widely believed that gmail accounts have the ability to carry large files," an HAL official said.
HAL has done quick remedial measures and the said account has been secured with more cyber security measures. A formal complaint has also been lodged with the Cyber Cell of the Karnataka Police. "The hacked ID mainly consisted of email IDS of local, national and international journalists and media houses covering aerospace and defence. We don't store any information in it," the official said.
It was in 2005 that HAL decided to formally embrace modern tool of Corporate Communication, in an effort to brand the company more visibly. The hacked ID (firstname.lastname@example.org) was created in 2005 with the single mandate of staying connected with the national media.
With the changing times and needs, HAL strengthened its communication strategies and expanded its Corporate Communication team. "The hacked ID was the first we created, but there after we have been operating from multiple IDs. Only press releases were sent from the ID," the official added.
HAL's CorpCom team functions from its Corporate Office on Bengaluru's famous Cubbon Road. The current management has been strengthening the department with the prime focus of getting more visibility to HAL's activities.
HAL says it was a historic blunder
HAL decided to slow down the activities of the CorpCom Department in 2009 after the then chairman A Nayak put branding activities on the backburner. "It was a historic blunder. The 2009-2011 will remain as the darkest periods of HAL for many reasons. But, we have overcome it and put better systems now. We have revived the CorpCom Dept, which flourished in HAL between 2005 and 2009. Today, we have a number of good initiatives being launched by the team," a senior officer said.
"The hacking of the email ID is a one-off case which we are investigating," he added. The CorpCom team is headed by Ashish Dutta, while G B Sutar (a former journalist) manages the media activities. M P Krishna, a retired Army man, is said to be the department's workhorse.
LCH event last official email
The last official press release which was sent from the hacked ID was of the first flight of the Light Combat Helicopter TD3 on November 12.
"We had no issues with this account in the past and we have put more verification processes now. It's a wake-up call, but nothing alarming. We never passed on any sensitive information to media over this ID. We have a very robust IT policy which has stipulated the dos and don'ts," the official added.