Pak Cyber Army: Many names one game

pakcbNew Delhi, Sept 1: The Pakistan Cyber Army which has launched many attacks on important Indian websites including the CBI’s portal has emerged in a new form today.

Earlier known as the Pakistan Cyber Army it calls itself the Paksitan Cyber Mujahideen today.

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Cyberwars-An explainer

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Cyberwar is the next big threat from Pakistan to India. An advisory issued by the Intelligence Bureau and the Ministry for Home Affairs states that Pakistan will look to launch a cyberwar on India and several government websites are under threat. Pakistan and China have been India’s main threats on the cyberwars and in the past as well several such wars have been launched. With wars on the ground becoming increasingly difficult to carry out several nations have relied on cyberwars to gain an advantage.Read more:

Pak threatens cyberwar on India

New Delhi, Aug 8: Pakistan has declared a proxy war on India, Intelligence Bureau officials say. While they intend to continue to with cross border firing and infiltrations in a bid to carry out terror strikes, a new alert would also suggest a cyber war. The cyber wing of the Intelligence Bureau has warned that government websites could be hacked by the Pakistan Cyber Army in this ongoing proxy war against IndiaRead more:

86959 websites hacked in 3 years

hacked86959- This is not just a number. This in fact is the number of Indian websites that have been hacked between 2011 and 2014. Overall an indicator that the problem of cyber crime in India is a very serious one and with terrorist groups dancing around on the internet the issue becomes even bigger.

While there are incidents reported on the border each day, there is an all out war that India fights on a daily basis against the various cyber terrorists based across the world. Our biggest fight is against the Chinese and the Pakistanis who have chosen to target Indian websites in a bid to either seek out information or just to embarrass.

High crime rate, low on convictions:                       

The worrying part of the above mentioned number is that these are hacks not committed just on private sites. There are a good number of government sites as well part of the attack. In the past three years we have seen sites of the defense forces, the CBI among other important sites being hacked. The Indian security agencies have booked nearly 1487 cases in the past three years. The worrying part of this entire issue is the conviction rate which according to statistics is at 10 per cent. Speaking to several officers in the cyber crime wings in the country, one gets the picture as to why this rate of conviction is so low. Most of the servers are based out of the United States of America and getting information has been extremely slow. In fact in some cases of social media accounts or emails being hacked the information that India has sought has been pending for nearly 10 years and this hurts the prosecution a great deal as a result of which the conviction rate is also so low.

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IM handle traced- Where else? Pakistan

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Indian agencies have managed to track the twitter handle of the Indian Mujahideen which claimed responsibility for the Bodhgaya attack to Pakistan. Sources tell rediff.com that the handle is being managed under the name @indianmujahideen from Karachi.
The Indian Mujahideen’s twitter handle is a relatively new one and has just tweets. NIA sources say they had sought the help of twitter to track down the account. It appears to be a recently created handle. The agencies say that it could be a genuine account and being handled by the numerous operatives including tech chief Abdus Subhan who is in karachi now.

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PRISM Vs NCCC- The snooping is on

www1Even as the US PRISM continues to invite a global outrage, India gets ready to roll out its own cyber snooping agency called the National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC).

India has expressed a lot of concern with the US Snooping programme called the PRISM which gives the agencies access to almost everything that anyone is doing online. What made it worse for India is that it figures fifth in the list of most snooped countries online.

India’s NCCC is similar in nature, but agencies assure that there would be absolutely no invasion to privacy and the necessary safeguards will be taken. The primary job of the NCCC is to carry out a real time assessment of cyber security threats and also provide reports which would be actionable in nature. Continue reading “PRISM Vs NCCC- The snooping is on”

Cyber war- A long battle ahead

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The rate at which crucial websites of the Indian government get hacked has posed a very serious question regarding our internal security. The official figure put out by the government of India is that 294 government websites have been hacked till date and 834 sites defaced. While this is the case of the government websites, the investigations by the various cyber crime agencies from across India have shown that nearly 10000 emails of government officials too have been hacked since the past five years.

While the government of India does have a list of all these websites that have been hacked, the most crucial ones were the hacking of the websites of the DRDO, Centrail Bureau of Investigation, the BSNL and very recently the network at the Eastern Naval Command at Vishakapatanam.

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Pak continues to hack and we continue to ponder!!

When the websites of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and the Central Bureau of Investigation was hacked by the Pakistanis we were left red faced. Earlier this year, Pakistan based hacker groups had hacked 112 Indian websites in a span of three months and this we thought would be the wake up call and we would put our National Cyber Security policy in place.
However the panic that has spread after the Assam violence has only gone on to show that we have a long way to go. The kind of threats that we are dealing with today is not something small. We face cyber warfare from both China and Pakistan in equal magnitude. While China looks to snoop into important defence information, Pakistan on the other hand defaces our websites and also uses our networks to spread hate on the cyber space and we all saw what the result of that was.

From Pakistan emerges a great threat in the form of the Pakistan Cyber Army which has many branches. There is also a group known as the H4tr ck which has been largely responsible for many hacks of Indian websites. This is the same group that had hacked the website of the BSNL and managed to pick up a lot of data such as phone numbers and other details of the registered customers. Investigators had pointed out then that the data base that they managed to collect could have been used for subversive activities.

Pakistan has engaged in a cyber war since the year 1998 and since then created many groups to hack into sites of developing nations especially India. The first of the websites that Pakistan based hackers defaced was that of the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre and this was done by a group known as Milworm.

After Milworm there have been many groups in Pakistan which have constantly hacked into Indian sites. Some of the groups that have been created over the years are the army in Kashmir, the Pakistan G Force and the Pakistan Cyber Army, the Pakistan Hackers Club. Since the cyber warfare with India began these groups have targeted nearly 500 websites in India whereas the Indian groups have managed to hit back at Pakistan around 40 times.

According to the experts the National Cyber Security Policy is not fully in place. In addition to this our servers are vulnerable and this helps the hackers a great deal. Moreover Pakistan based hackers are completely funded by the Intelligence out there and more importantly unlike in India, they are fully protected.

There has been a lot of intelligence regarding Pakistan groups using the social media and other websites to create a panic. It was in this context that the National Cyber Coordination Committee was mooted. It did win the battle with blackberry and managed to get it to set up servers in India. Its other job was to monitory content on social media and pass on information to the Intelligence Agencies. In addition to this it was also supposed to track mobile phone users real time. The Indian government had also announced that it would set up the committee at a cost of Rs 800 crore.

The experts however feel that these are organisations which are under the government which in turn would mean that there would be a lot of red tape thus delaying the process. Although India does have a cyber army, many in the group feel that they need more patronage from the government. India would need a dedicated cyber army which could counter these attacks and there is no dearth of talent for the same.

The use of the social media to trigger terror has become a favourite among terror groups. Very recently the investigations into the Indian Mujahideen and its activities went on to show that encrypted messages had been passed on through the social media. The IM during the Delhi blasts had used the social media and created some fake accounts. Not only did they share information between each other but also managed to conduct a recruitment drive. During this investigation it was also found that the IM had been using lesser known websites to communicate. However sadly despite knowing all this, Pakistan still did manage to hood wink the Indian agencies and did finally manage to create panic using the same method.

Cyber security experts would point out that setting up of multiple agencies cannot be the only solution. These sites need to be monitored 24/7. India’s approach has been more reactive than pro active and more often than not we have been finding out only once the crime is committed. The statistics go on to show that we have not taken this threat too seriously. In the year 2007 there were 217 such attacks and in the years 2010 and 2011 the attacks went up to 966 and 1000 respectively.

The experts also add that these are relatively easier kinds of attacks to track. However with worms like Flame and Stuxnet doing the rounds the challenge only gets bigger.

After India finally managed to discover the Pakistan hand behind this panic wave, they also did arrest some persons who were spreading these hate messages at the behest of the Pakistanis. India is yet to amend laws pertaining to cyber security and this plea only gets louder because there have been 805 persons who have been arrested for cyber crime since the year 2010 and the conviction rate is hardly one percent. The lack of a strong law and proper  investigation has only led hackers to believe that they can easily get away with such crimes.

India has plenty to offer on paper. A few months hack there was a proposed National Cyber Security Policy. The policy aimed at designating agencies to block intrusions into our cyber space. According to this plan there was to be a constant monitoring of what was happening on the web all the time. It was also supposed to create a technical-professional body certifying the security of a network and also defend critical infrastructure. Well the fact is that this plan is yet to take off and worse it still awaits the appointment of a coordinator.

Many ethical hackers feel that giving them patronage and also a free hand to monitor the situation would go a long way in helping cyber security. However many of them fear getting into this since the approach of the Indian government towards ethical hacking has not been positive and “hacking” continues to be termed as a bad word in the Indian circles.

NE- Pak used their Indian assets too!

The panic that led to the massive exodus of people from the North Eastern states had a Pakistan hand in it. The proof that India has is good enough, but the bigger point is that Pakistan has managed to replicate what it usually does in its terror campaign against India.
Sources who are part of the investigation tell rediff.com that the cyber campaign by Pakistan against India is exactly like the terror campaign that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba launched against India. The panic campaign which Pakistan launched had an Indian hand as well as some of their well wishers in India helped spread the message and ensured that it reached every corner of the country. The cyber terrorists at Pakistan used the same model that the Lashkar used to spread terror in India. The Lashkar which carried out almost all attacks on Indian soil gradually relied on Indian modules such as SIMI and the Indian Mujahideen to spread terror. What the cyber army did in Pakistan was use Indian accounts on social media sites and also some websites to spread the panic across India.
The Indian investigator’s report shows that morphed images were used and pictures and messages were uploaded through 70 sites. In addition to this, bulk messages were also sent to add to the panic.
Intelligence Bureau officials say that free wheelers in Pakistan with the support of the establishment have used the cyber space to attack developing nations like India. This was a campaign that was launched a decade ago and continues unabated till date. Pakistan tends to call these people as non state actors but we are convinced that they enjoy the support of the establishment. Creating discord and panic while disturbing communal harmony has been top on their agenda.
In the latest probe it has been found that Pakistan has been trying to create assets in India like they did with the SIMI and the IM. When the images and the messages originated out of Pakistan, there were many modules in India that grabbed this and blindly circulated it thus leading to the panic. The fact that this material was being created since July itself shows that it was a well planned operation. The Pakistan cyber army has been told to hunt for home grown modules in India. The Home grown cyber modules act as carriers of the propaganda which makes the job easier. It was also found during the agitation that many local leaders used this propaganda to fuel tensions and not to mention the scores of so called activists who blindly passed on this information without checking the veracity of the messages.
Sources say that this is probably one of the first campaigns online that Pakistan has attempted and suceeded. Although the cyber armies in Pakistan have often defaced Indian websites, this is the first time they are attempting to replicate the Lashkar module by using home grown modules to further terror.
India needs to be extremely watchful of this new tactic since the web could be a highly dangerous space as it is largely not monitored. The cyber groups in Pakistan will continue to lure many in India to create fake profiles and pages so that in the years to come they could spread panic and terror which would emerge out of the Indian servers, just the way it was done with the Indian Mujahideen. Pakistan would want even cyber terror to become self sufficient like the other form of terrorism, IB officials also say.
They are aware that creating such assets or modules in India could help them a great deal as they always want to ensure that there is panic in India but no finger should be pointed at them.
This art of false propaganda is not something new for Pakistan. Today it is happening on the web space while a 15 years back it was through pamphlets and later compact discs. Post Babri masjid and also Godhra, the Indian agencies had found loads of such pamphlets and CDs in Kashmir which contained morphed images and false messages. On verifying it was found that most of them were fake aimed at brain washing the you to take up arms against India. Ironically such material is still available online and also with some persons who subscribe to Pakistan’s version of Jihad.
The probe has further found that all through knowing fully well that the Assam conflict was an ethnic one, they tried to colour it communal. Further they also wanted some right wing groups to retaliate which would mean that there would be more panic. Irresponsible statements by some politicians, the enthusiasm by some activists, sensationalism by the media, Pakistan’s own capabilities on the web and lastly the fact that sympathisers bit the bait were all factors which went into the planning and execution of this huge plan which dispaced lakhs of people especially from the North Eastern states, the probe also reveals.