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Hackers hit 112 Indian gov sites in three months

Pakistan suspected of cross-border cyber mischief

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There was embarrassing news for the Indian government this week as one of its ministers was forced to admit that over 100 of its web sites had been hacked in just three months at the beginning of the year, including that of a state-owned telecoms company.

Minister for communications and IT, Sachin Pilot, revealed in a written reply in parliament that a total of 112 sites had been compromised from December 2011 to February 2012, Indian news service IANS reported.

Many of the sites hacked appeared to be those of government agencies in various regions of the sprawling country including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kerala, the report continued.

Also singled out was state-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which was hacked and defaced in December allegedly by hackers belonging to the ‘H4tr!ck’ group.

BSNL in particular came under attack from Pakistani hackers several times last year, most notably from a group calling themselves the Pakistan Cyber Army, and many of the hacks of government sites mentioned by Pilot could be blamed on mischief makers from India’s fierce rival across the border.

According to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, there were 834 defacements of .in web sites in India during January this year, with the figure rising to 1,425 for all sites.

The authorities certainly don’t seem to be getting any better at deflecting such attacks given that around the same number of government sites – 117 – were attacked in the entire first half of 2011, according to an official release.

This would seem to indicate that basic security measures are still not been taken at the back end to bolster defences against common attack methods including cross-site scripting and SQL injection.

It’s not just the public sector that has been found wanting though, with Microsoft India’s online store still offline after being targeted by alleged Chinese hackers.

Despite reassuring customers that their data was safe, Microsoft was later forced to admit that actually the hackers may well have nabbed credit card details from what is thought to have been an unencrypted database. ®

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