The hacker group, Anonymous, that fancies itself as an online activist club (or hacktivists), has claimed to have hacked the website of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) on June 6. There is no official confirmation from the NIC, but the website is down so far. The official line is that the site is under maintenance. A message put up by Anonymous on its homepage has also been removed.
The hacked screenshot which is making the rounds on the web has this message: "Greetings! We exist without nationality...We exist with humanity. Get this message clear Mr Prime Minister and others. We do not like to talk much and Yes! IT is our world. Expect us."
There was however no data stolen by the hackers, or damage done, according to a government expert on cyber security. "This was more a playful threat, that exploited some weaknesses of the NIC site," the official said on the condition of anonymity. Anonymous said in a message on Twitter that the NIC site had been defaced because of the violence against Ramdev by the central government. Earlier, it extended an invitation through Twitter for users to join in an operation against corruption in India.
Anonymous has also set up an 'Operation India' page on Facebook, and an account on Twitter to carry on the fight against corruption in India. Anonymous announced their plans on Twitter in advance and also asked others to join its Operation India Against Corruption.
The statement by Anonymous read: "Over fifty years ago, Indian Freedom Fighters laid down their lives for our freedom. In the end, what was it all for? Today our politicians ride slip-shod over our laws, corruption is rampant. If the brutal way Baba Ramdev's hunger strike was crushed is anything to go by, it would seem that India is now on its way to becoming an undemocratic 'democracy'."
"Finally, steps were taken to correct this. The Lokpal Bill was created. And what happens? False tapes turn out to discredit those who support this bill, supporters of Baba Ramdev are mercilessly and brutally attacked," the statement read. They also mentioned, "If three minutes is all it took Anonymous, it's likely that no government website is safe. Remember that the websites for all Indian government departments are typically set up and run by the National Informatics Centre." Anonymous has become infamous over the past few months, after its repeated hacking of Sony's Playstation Network, in response to Sony's 'offensive against free speech and internet freedom'.
In a major embarrassment last year, the website of premier investigating agency CBI was hacked by programmers identifying themselves as 'Pakistani Cyber Army'. The home page of the CBI website had a message from the 'Pakistani Cyber Army' warning the Indian Cyber Army not to attack their websites.
The hackers have made a mockery of the country's cyber security by infiltrating into the CBI website, supposed to be one of the most secure websites. The CBI is connected to the command centre of the world police organisation Interpol - 24x7. The message from the hackers also spoke about the filtering controls provided by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), a body which mans computer servers across the country.
Intelligence agencies have been often warning the government that proper cyber security was not being ensured in government offices and that no security audit was being carried out. The Pakistani Cyber Army has also warned that it would carry out 'mass defacement' of other websites.