by TS Chandrashekar

Computer hacking is the act of modifying computer hardware or software, in order to cause damage to sensitive data or to simply steal confidential information. The Information can be of national security, government data, national defence, crime. By Hacking, criminals are waging war and making a country or a nation standstill. So Hackers are criminals who do an invisible War on Nations, World Economy and Individuals. Few countries like China, Pakistan and Iran have dedicated teams of cyber hackers (with immunity).

Just recently the websites of the Indian Defence Ministry, Home and Law Ministries have been hacked. Indian government websites have come under attack from suspected Chinese, Pakistani and World hackers in the past. Hackers target in India are in the field of Defence like Indian Missiles, Aircraft, Warships, Tanks, Cars, Utilities like Power Generation and distribution Grids, Banking, Oil, Communication, Industries, Public Opinion during Elections and IT Systems to name few.

Official websites of the Indian government are always targeted. Authorities had temporarily taken down the ministry of home affairs website last year after a cyber attack was reported. In 2016, the websites and databases of seven Indian missions in Europe and Africa were reportedly hacked and data from their servers were allegedly dumped online. In January, suspected Pakistan-based operatives had hacked the website of National Security Guard (NSG) and posted anti-India content and comments against the Prime Minister.

In March 2016, terror outfit Al-Qaeda hacked a section of the Indian Railways website with a message asking Muslims to partake in “global jihad.” A hacker group by the name of Lulzsec India claimed to have accessed a section of the Rajya Sabha website that only members of the Upper House and administrators of the website are supposed to have entry to, even logging into Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah’s profile.

Earlier this year, the government informed the Lok Sabha that over 700 websites linked to the central and state governments were hacked in the past four years. Between April 2017 and January 2018, more than 22,000 Indian websites were hacked, of which 114 were government portals, minister of state for electronics and IT K J Alphons said in a written reply to Lok Sabha. Security Cyber Intelligence Labs along with its partner seQtree InfoServices had tracked an advertisement on DarkNet announcing secret access to the servers and database dump of over 6000 Indian businesses – ISPs, Government and private organisations. It was said that the Chinese breaches tend to exploit vulnerabilities of Indian IT systems and “just observe.”

As India is moving more digital hacking of Government or Private or Defence Sector creates a fear among the citizens. As in a time when an increasing number of Indians are going digital and doing transactions online, these hacking incidents expose the country’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities. So India has to consider hacking of any Government, Private Sites or of any individuals as an act of War and Punish him under Terrorism Law. As he comprises by his act our Security.

The root of the problem is the armed forces dependence on imported equipment that heightens threat from an embedded virus or spyware. Even the US is deeply worried about systems being infected with Chinese malware. India is extremely vulnerable to such attacks and the military needs to evolve the very stringent testing methodology to make sure hardware and software systems are not compromised. “Collecting intelligence on India remains a key strategic goal for China-based advanced persistent threat (APT) groups, and these attacks on India and its neighbouring countries reflect growing interest in its foreign affairs,“ said Bryce Boland, FireEye chief technology.

Chinese firms either supply equipment or manage power distribution networks in 18 cities in India. Local firms have long lobbied against Chinese involvement in the power sector, raising security concerns. India is tightening the rules for businesses entering its power transmission sector and making stringent checks on both power and telecoms equipment for malware. The Indian Army had put out a video warning Indians about Chinese hackers extracting personal information using the social media application. One more concern is Chinese hackers can easily spoof IP (Internet Protocol) addresses in such a manner that it might appear that these attacks are coming from Pakistan.

At last, one can say that India should treat Hacking as an act of war on India and give utmost importance to Cyber Security. Cyber Security Education should be mandated in all the curriculum from High School and everybody who buys mobile to computers to hardware should be known the disadvantage of Hacking of one’s personal goods. Alert against virus attacks, cleaning the data, updating windows can check few problems. For now, India is under check in invisible War of Cyber…. That too our Ministry of Defence has become victim we have to be alert as an enemy in shadow is powerful as they have made major progress in synergising, combining, and coordinating its signal intelligence, EW, information security and computer network attack systems on our land air water and State.