The Centre’s response to reports of the websites of some ministries being down has been comprehensive. Top officials have given all three possible explanations for why the websites are not working – hacked, intentionally taken down, and down because of technical issues.
The breakdown of governmental cohesion began around 3:30 pm when news started doing the rounds on social media that the website of the Defence Ministry seemed to be hacked. Why was it assumed to be hacked? Because there was some text on the error page that seemed to be Chinese.
Soon afterwards, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted in language that was categorical to confirm that her ministry’s website had been hacked. “Action is initiated after the hacking of MoD website ( http://mod.nic.in ). The website shall be restored shortly. Needless to say, every possible step required to prevent any such eventuality in the future will be taken,” she said.
Not long after this, a Home Ministry official told news agency PTI that his department’s website had been intentionally taken down as a precaution. At the same time, the Law Ministry’s website was also non-functional. The Home Ministry official explained that the site had been taken down so that the National Informatics Centre could install a security upgrade.
National Informatics Centre (NIC), the agency that hosts most government websites, is the nic.in that’s there in most of their web addresses. With its soundness and competence on the line, NIC came out and told news agency ANI that the Defence Ministry had not been hacked, and that it has been facing technical issues since 2:30 pm.
NIC however volunteered no information on how or why the apparently Chinese characters ended up on the Defence Ministry website’s error page. This is a developing story, which we will update if we receive any more explanations on why the websites didn’t work.