October 19, 2007 13:20 IST
Terrorism in India is a growing concern. And while the security agencies are busy dealing with this problem, another headache has cropped up in the form of hackers hacking into sensitive information such as military data and also e-mails of key persons in the government.
Sources in the National Informatics Centre say they have been getting reports regarding this issue and are doing everything in the book to secure the system.
An official in the NIC said they had managed to track down the IP addresses of the hackers and preliminary investigations revealed that it could be the handiwork of some Chinese people.
Reports state the cyber attacks, which are being mounted from dial Internet connections, allegedly from China mainly targeted the e-mails of ministers and top army officials.
Sources say the e-mails contained sensitive material regarding national security.
Sources in the cyber crime wing say that a lot of damage could have been done as reports suggested that Indian servers were targeted at least thrice a day. Sources also add that at least 200 e-mails of ministers were targeted by the hackers.
Key information that could have been exposed: An officer in the cyber crime cell on condition of anonymity said that the information that the hackers were trying to target mainly concerned defence deals that India was entering into with other countries.
This included the purchase of weapons, future plans and also military strategy. However, only the minor deals and details have been targeted while the major ones remain secure, officials say.
This is largely because India is not as tech savvy as compared to the other nations. There is still a lot of file and paper-work going on here, when it comes to the larger deals.
There are still some in the government who consider file and paper documentation as a safer measure.
The government at present not only has the headache of rectifying the flaws, but will also have to make slight changes in previous defence deals.
Why China? Although none in the government want to officially confirm that the hackers are based in China, cyber crime cell officials say that the IP addresses has been tracked down to China.
They do not rule out the possibility of these hackers having government support as unlike in India, IP addresses are allotted to each person in China by the government itself.
China has been in the eye of storm in past too when the US, Germany [Images] and UK too blamed them for hacking.
Sources say that this could be part of a larger business strategy by the Chinese who are trying to make an entry into the software market.
It is said that China intends exposing the weak security system present in these countries so that they could pump in security based products into these markets.
However, the Indian intelligence is not taking this lightly and feels that it could be a larger design rather than just a marketing gimmick.
The IB says another motive could be to cripple the systems in the Indian government.
This almost amounts to cyber terrorism, the IB says.
It sure has come as a shock to the Indian government. Director General of NIC B K Gairola says that the situation has been brought under control and an effective mechanism is in place.
He said there was no need to panic as sensitive data had not been lost.
C K Swaminathan, an expert on the subject of cyber crime, says there is no point in playing the blame game at the moment.
India should thank its stars that no major information has gone out.
At present there is a secure system in place, claim the officials. But that does not mean that we can take matters lying down.
There is every chance of the hackers attacking our systems once again in the future.
A dedicated team ought to be put on the job to continuously monitor the security of our systems, Swaminathan also added.