NEW DELHI. Even as gunfire continues to be traded across the Indo-Pak border, a full-blown hacking and defacement war has erupted in cyberspace. On Thursday, over a dozen Indian and Pakistani websites were defaced by hackers from either side of the fence.
The website of the Press Club of India (PCI) in the capital was hacked and defaced, with the hackers’ message on the website’s home page claiming Pakistani origin.
A hacker group calling itself “Indian Hackers Online Squad” hacked and defaced the website of the Pakistan’s main opposition party, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), http://www.ppp.org.pk on Wednesday, with one “Bl@k Dr@gon” claiming credit. On Thursday, the Pakistan railways website was hacked as well, the second time this year, with the same name appearing on the defaced page.
Responding to a Wednesday attack on Malayalam films actor Mohanlal’s website, a group called “The Mallu soldiers” defaced the website of Pakistan’s National University of Modern Languages. The websites of Quaid-e-Azam Public College in Gujranwala (http://qpc.edu.pk/), Pakistan Electric Power Company (Private) Limited (www.pepco.gov.pk) and National Manpower Bureau (www.nmb.com.pk) were also among the sites hacked by anonymous Indian hackers.
The “about me” page of singer Sonu Nigam’s official website and teammodi.in were also defaced by a group claiming to be “Pakistan Cyber Attackers”. Two Punjab news websites were also reported to have been hacked.
Cyber security consultant Rakshit Tandon says that he had been getting constant calls throughout Thursday to report these incidents. The hackers claimed to be from Pakistan and India. But Tandon feels it would be wiser to wait for the investigation to confirm their locations. “It is easy for someone to use a proxy server and claim to be coming from anywhere in the world,” says Tandon, also advisor to the Gurgaon cyber cell.
Even as the hackers continued well into Thursday night, hashtags like #BuzdilPakistan have been trending in India on Twitter, while the Paksitan top trends feature tags such as #CowardModi, #freekashmirfromindia, #IndiaIsTerrorist, and #SayNoToBollywood.
Asking people to calm down, Indo-Pak friendship group Aaghaz-E-Dosti has asked netizens not to ignite the tension. “We must know that for both the countries, peace is of utmost importance and also our common need is being focused on development rather than spending huge money of taxes for arms and ammunition…We believe that any dispute can be resolved only by talk and mutual negotiation and agreements and not with violence,” said a statement released by the group of youths from India and Pakistan.
A recent report from the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) says the agency handled 71,780 cyber attacks and tracked 24216 Indian website defacements in 2013. “Most of the defacements were under ‘.in’ domain, in which a total 15490 ‘.in’ domain websites were defaced,” says the report.
The PPP defacement responded to party chairman and Bhutto family scion Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s comments on taking back Kashmir from India. The website was defaced with memes deriding his comments on Kashmir. “To Citizens of Pakistan, Pakistan’s Army, Pakistan Peoples Party and Specially Mr. Bilawal Bhutto- Zardari. Without any Violence Let Me tell you that Pakistan will never Get Kashmir. This is the Truth. You Have to Accept it :)” said the message on the page.
Press Club of India officials said the breach on the PCI website took place about four days ago. The PCI has filed a complaint with the cyber crime cell in Mehrauli. This is the second time in three years that their website – pressclubofindia.org has been hacked.
The message on the defaced home page of the press club website read, “Our Target is your Government’s Websites … We will Inshalaah with The help of Many Muslim Hackers Take You Off From The InterneT ! Your Credit Cards , Your Bank’s Account , Your Servers … Are In Danger ! We Never Forget what You Do (sic) against the Humanity …In Jammu and Kashmir Millions Of People Were Dead…, Pakistan’s Muslims Are Killed In The Force’s Attacks… Indian Forces Destroyed Kashmir’s Families …Killed Innocent Childrens (sic)… But No One Cares !!!! You Want To Stop Us !! But Let me guess ! Can a Men (sic) Catch a Shadow ?!”
PCI officials said there was no risk of data being compromised as the website only featured public event details, daily menu updates and other such public information. “No data has been compromised and members have nothing to worry about. Only the home page has been defaced,” PCI general secretary Nadeem Ahmad Kazmi told TOI.
The periodic online attacks have been going on for some years. Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune reported back in 2011, that Indian hackers had defaced the website of the Karachi Press Club. In 2010, a group of hackers identifying themselves as the “Indian Cyber Army” had reportedly defaced 36 Pakistani government websites. This, in turn had happened after the CBI website was defaced. In August this year, an Indian hacker group that calls itself “Black Dragon Indian Hacker Online Squad” hacked and defaced the official Pakistan railways website.