India-Pak cyber war is no longer funny

Hackers in both India and Pakistan have been busy getting even on cyber space, where patriotism is getting redefined by their skill in hacking websites in the ‘enemy country’

Illustration by Qazi M Raghib
Illustration by Qazi M Raghib

Ashlin Mathew

By Tuesday evening, several Indian websites had been hacked by a group called Pakistan Haxors Crew, who claimed that the attack was a payback for hacking websites in Pakistan, including the Pakistani Railways website.

On Tuesday, the websites of Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi), IIT Varanasi, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Delhi University (DU), University of Kota, Army Institute of Management and Technology, Greater Noida; Defence Institute of Advanced Technology; Army Institute of Management, Kolkata; National Aerospace Laboratories and Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS) had been breached.

By Wednesday evening, the Kerala Cyber Warriors had begun their payback. They hacked the website of Bahria Journal of Professional Psychology and this time, putting the Malayali sense of humour on showcase, the group has put up a conversation, which includes teaching Malayalam alphabets on the homepage.

These counter attacks aren’t a recent development. This attack came about after ‘Kerala Cyber Warriors’ hacked a few Pakistani government websites a few days ago to protest the death sentence given to the alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadav.

“We only hack if anyone defaces Pakistani websites. And without any cause we don't deface a single website. We just always keep watching everyone and every single act against Pakistan in the cyber world,” said a spokesperson from Pakistan Haxors Crew.

This is not the first instance. There is a cyber war going on between India and Pakistan and the primary goal of the cyber warriors in India, most of them from South India and which includes Kerala Cyber Warriors and Mallu Cyber Soldiers, is to secure Indian websites from getting hacked by Pakistani techies.

In what would make for an interesting thriller, here’s a list of earlier such hacks:

January 2017: Hackers allegedly from Pakistan defaced the official website of National Security Guard (NSG) and published obscene messages against Prime Minister Narendra Modi apart from other anti-India content. It was done by a user, who identified as Alone injector.

Responding to this attack, one of the south Indian cyber warriors hacked the web portal of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information (RTI) Commission in a day, and left the message: “Don’t India, Pakisthan [Pakistan] for Sale, Indian power,” read the message left by the hackers, with an Indian flag displayed on the page. Some of the messages were in Malayalam too.

September 2015, the Kerala government website was hacked allegedly by a Pakistan-based hacker, who goes under the name of Faisal, and in retaliation, the Mallu Cyber Soldiers hacked a number of Pakistan government websites including the Pakistan Information Commission, Election Commission and airport websites.

In a message on the Mallu Cyber Solider’s Facebook Fan Page, the hacker group said, “Greetings Pakistan Script Kiddies #OP_PAK_CYBER_SPACE. Payback is not done yet. Around 100+ Pakistan Websites got Defaced By Indian Hackers. This is a payback for hacking United as one Divided by zero!!! Special Thanks to Hell Shield Hackers, Team Hind Hackers, CY83R_P1R4735”.

August 15, 2016: On Independence Day, the Kerala Cyber Warriors claimed they had hacked 50 Pakistani websites and posted the message: “Take a stand against evil, corruption and terrorism, for we belong to India. A nation of pride and we will thus say, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, hum sab bhai bhai hain, Happy Independence Day.”

July 2015: A day after PM Narendra Modi launched Digital India week to reform government through technology, the official website of National Institute of Technology was hacked and defaced by a user named Faisal Afzal. The same user had also hacked the NIT Kolkata website.

After that attack, an Indian hacker group, Indian Mad Hunters, warned Pakistan hackers by hacking a Pakistani government hospital website and posted a warning. But in response, Pakistani hackers defaced a few more Indian sites and posted #FreeKashmir and #OPIndia messages.

In response to this, an Indian hacker, ‘in73ct0r d3vil’, led an operation against Pakistani websites called #OPVijaya and hacked more than 200 Pakistan websites on a single day including, 80 subdomains and the domain of RTI Pakistan.

Interestingly, while this war was raging during the Digital Week, ‘AnonOpsIndia’, an Indian group of hackers, compromised the BSNL core server, which resulted in the replication and access of database that stored 30 million user data. Anonymous India twitter handle claimed responsibility of this hack, while explaining the reason behind this action in an open letter. They would rather be called activists who fight against unfair government policies, it said.

Their open letter can be found at the end of this website.

Kerala Cyber Warriors and Mallu Cyber Soldiers didn’t respond to the questions sent to them. This article will be updated if and when they respond.

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Published: 27 Apr 2017, 4:59 PM