Over the weekend, the Maldives government faced a cyberattack leading to the temporary unavailability of key websites, including the President’s office, Foreign Ministry, and Tourism Ministry. The disruption occurred amidst diplomatic tensions following derogatory remarks about India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi by three Maldivian ministers. While the government initially attributed the downtime to technical issues, speculation arose about the attack’s motives, with some suggesting a potential link to Chinese hackers attempting to discredit India. The National Centre for Information Technology (NCIT) and other entities worked to restore the affected websites, which are now back online.
Acknowledging the cyberattack, the President’s office released a statement on social media, citing “technical disruption” and expressing gratitude for the public’s understanding and patience. The incident occurred amid broader diplomatic tensions, with three Maldivian ministers reportedly suspended for their remarks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed condemned the derogatory comments, urging the government to distance itself and emphasizing the importance of maintaining positive relations with international partners.
The Maldives government’s response to the cyberattack underscores the challenge of navigating cybersecurity threats in the context of geopolitical issues. While the websites have been restored, the incident adds to concerns about the potential use of cyber operations in the realm of diplomatic relations. The speculation regarding Chinese hackers underscores the complex landscape of attributing cyber incidents to specific actors, with such claims often lacking concrete evidence.