India-Pakistan Gear Up For Cyber Wars This I-Day
The two South Asian rivals have been defacing each other’s’ sites during this time of the year to cripple the government functioning of the other and spread hate messages
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There will be war, but there will be no blood; economies might cripple but there will be no gun powder involved. Apart from the mortar shelling and the gunfire that is usually exchanged between the two South Asian rivals- India and Pakistan during the Independence Day, cyber wars between the two nations have also become a ritual.
The tech masters of cyber space in India are not only defacing Pakistani websites but also hijacking their network and infecting them with ransom ware. There is an active attempt by the Indian hackers to crash numerous Pakistani sites, including their government and critical infrastructure portals.
This became evident when on August 3, an anonymous India hacker cracked into Pakistan's government website www.pakistan.gov.pk and posted the Indian national anthem and Independence Day greetings.
Pukhraj Singh, a cyber-security expert who played a key role in the setting up of the cyber operations centre of the Indian government after the 26/11 attacks told BW Businessworld, “The hacking of websites is called defacement in our parlance. Largely, and especially in the Indo-Pak context, these defacements are a mere nuisance. Minus the embarrassment, the actual damage caused is minimal. It's like someone sprays your front office with incendiary graffiti. Websites, in any case, are for public consumption. Nothing classified ought to reside there as a measure of best practice. Rather, we should pay more attention to the menace of cyber espionage.”
From the past few years, we have been witnessing underground hacking communities from both the countries launch cyber-attacks on each other around this time of the year. But this year, attack is expected to get more aggressive.
Earlier this year also, Indian hackers injected ransom ware in over three Pakistan airport websites. Similar attempts have been made from across border as well. It is speculated that this independence day, Pakistani hackers will also try to respond as they have in the past carried out mass defacement and are focused on targeting government portals.
“We are being targeted by nation states from left, right and centre -- the list of adversaries stealing sensitive information from our networks easily overwhelm this minor kerfuffle between India and Pakistan. Lot of our critical and strategic installations are being targeted. That's where the focus should be on,” added Singh.
The cyber tech masters of India crippled hundreds of Pakistan government websites earlier when Indian army conducted surgical strike and during the announcement of the death penalty of Kulbhushan Jadhav. While a few years back, the official website of the Kerala Government: kerala.gov.in, was hacked by a person identifying himself as Faisal Afzal. The text on the homepage at that moment was reportedly, "Official website of the RC Office,Govt of Kerala- New Delhi Hacked! Pakistan Zindabad.”
Hackers usually don't target individuals or small groups of users, but rather prefer large organisations, governments or communities that store personal information of thousands or millions of users. The advent of Bitcoins can bring another dimension in this year’s cyber war games as hackers might ask for them from the other nation after crippling the website. Thus, there is an urgent need to safeguard our sites from such defacement especially when we know that this isn’t just a game of revenge anymore but a war away from borders.