Chinese hackers target PMO

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by notinlove, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. notinlove

    notinlove Regular Member

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    Hackers from China have targeted computers in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

    Headlines Today has learnt that the sinister attempt was made around December 15 last year. Investigators are still coming to terms with the depth of the damage.

    The hackers had aimed high - their targets were the cream of India's national security set-up: National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar, PM's Special Envoy Shyam Saran and Deputy National Security Advisor Shekhar Dutt. The four and up to 26 others were squarely in the crosshairs of the hacking attempt.

    Top sources told Headlines Today that investigators are trying hard to find out who these hackers were and whether this was a devious espionage attempt by the Chinese government itself.

    When Headlines Today contacted the PMO regarding the espionage attempt, a spokesperson said no classified information had been breached, but added: "There are routine attempts to hack into various systems. The PMO has its own system in place to protect against such attempts."

    A top PMO official, whose e-mail account was cracked by the Chinese hackers, confirmed the espionage bid, saying: "These kind of hacking attempts are made. To think they are not made is wrong. The internet or intranet is not used for official purposes."

    According to Bharat Karnad, a strategic affairs analyst, "China wants war by all means. It doesn't believe in peacetime. For China, it's always rivals, always competition."

    Pavan Duggal, chairman of Cyber Law and IT Act Committee, says: "China is very active in cyberspace. It has raised a cyber army of about 3,00,000 people and their only job is to intrude upon secured networks of other countries. All this is all aimed at supremacy. Every country must set up cyber armies to counter China."

    R.S.N. Singh, a former RAW officer, says: "China wants to dominate and control this space. This cyber army has soldiers not in uniform but anybody and everybody, maybe college students. It's very serious as cyber warfare can bring a country to a crippling halt."

    The timing of the espionage attempt has investigators suspecting that the Chinese hackers were desperately trying to access any data on India's position at the Copenhagen Climate Summit.

    Until Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Copenhagen on December 17, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and PM's Special Envoy Shyam Saran were singing different tunes.

    While Ramesh was in favour of scrapping the Kyoto Protocol, Saran was against the move. On December 15 when India's final stand was still shrouded in mystery, the Chinese hackers targeted the PMO computers.

    But what has disturbed investigators the most is that the Chinese hackers quite likely had inside help. The possibility of a mole within the Indian establishment helping a foreign adversary is staring investigators in the face.

    And the technology being used is preoccupying the Indian sleuths no end. The espionage attempt was highly evolved and well-researched. The mail was routed through several multi-proxy servers thus obliterating the trail.

    The hacking spyware itself was embedded in a PDF document. And the trojan was programmed to carry out an array of functions, including downloading files, accessing emails and passwords and also accessing the desktop from a remote location.

    Chinese hackers target PMO computers : India Today - Latest Breaking News from India, World, Business, Cricket, Sports, Bollywood.
     
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  3. notinlove

    notinlove Regular Member

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    No breach in computer security system: PMO

    The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has said there was "no breach" in the security systems of its computers or those in other central government departments.

    Asked about a media report that hackers from China have targeted computers in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), an official in the PMO denied the report.

    "Attempts have always been there to hack our computers, but we have our security systems in place," a PMO official told IANS.

    "There has been no breach on our security system, we are absolutely safe," PMO media adviser Harish Khare told IANS.

    According to a Headlines Today TV channel report, hackers from China had targeted computers in the PMO around Dec 15 last year and "investigators are still coming to terms with the depth of the damage".

    It said the hackers had aimed at the "cream of India's national security set-up: National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrashekhar, PM's Special Envoy Shyam Saran and Deputy National Security Advisor Shekhar Dutt. The four and up to 26 others were squarely in the crosshairs of the hacking attempt".

    "The hacking spyware itself was embedded in a PDF document. And the Trojan Horse was programmed to carry out an array of functions, including downloading files, accessing emails and passwords and also accessing the desktop from a remote location," it said.

    No breach in computer security system: PMO- Hindustan Times
     
  4. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    Russian mafia may be behind PMO cyber attack - India - The Times of India

    NEW DELHI: Recent cyber attacks on computers used by the PMO and Cabinet Secretariat, among others, seem to have originated from Russia and were



    perhaps the handiwork of the mafia or criminal gangs which targeted email IDs linked to the NICNET system.

    The source of the suspicious emails in the inboxes of several officials using the .nic address -- including senior bureaucrats like national security advisor M K Narayanan and cabinet secretary K M Chandrashekhar -- has been traced to Russian servers. The emails had a virulent attachment which could infect the recipient computer if opened.

    The possibility of cyber criminals working at the behest of other entities cannot be ruled out either although official sources maintained that reports of sensitive information being accessed were incorrect. Rather than a targeted operation, the attacks were in the nature of a "fishing expedition" ^ an effort to trawl information and later sift it.

    These criminal gangs could also well be in the business of gathering information that could then be "offered" to interested parties in much the same way telemarketers deal with databases. A senior official, however, claimed that really sensitive information was not on the net systems that had been targeted.

    It was pointed out that the bugs reached externally linked computers which are separate from the intranet that links PMO officials. The computers with open net access are used by officials for personal communication and net searches. The standalone computers are separate and believed to be tightly safeguarded. After the intruding emails were detected on December 15, all machines were scanned and innoculated afresh.

    With Indian official systems earlier attacked by Chinese hackers, protecting communication, even if not too sensitive, has become a fulltime task. In this case, it is felt that the hackers did not get much beyond accessing subject lines and IDs of persons who were in communication with the officials concerned. And if recipients did not open the attachments, they were reasonably safe.

    According to PMO sources, the computer files possibly accessed by the overseas hackers contained "nothing sensitive or secret". Anticipating the increasing attentions of `hackers", a `safety shield' is already in place though there is no way to prevent cyber criminals or mischief makers from launching attacks.

    "You have to actually walk into the PMO to access the information contained in the intra-office computers," a source said. When the hacking incident was detected, a probe was ordered. The National Technical Research Organization did the sleuthing thereafter.
     
  5. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    WTF ! So who is it ? The Russians or the Chinese.

    The problem, from what I've heard, about Indian hackers- excepting those that work with the government - is that they don't work in unison. Unlike Chinese and Pakisthanie hackers that gang up in one large cyber gay-fest, Indian hackers're all trying to be cyber-superheros, in the process achieving nothing and leaving Indian domains susceptible.

    Time to take off the gloves and put 'on the brass knuckles.
     
  6. atleast_a_bronze

    atleast_a_bronze Regular Member

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    China tried to hack our computers, says India’s security chief M.K. Narayanan

    China tried to hack our computers, says India’s security chief M.K. Narayanan

    Chinese hackers are believed to have attempted to penetrate India’s most sensitive government office in the latest sign of rising tensions between the two rival Asian powers, The Times has learnt.

    M. K. Narayanan, India’s National Security Adviser, said his office and other government departments were targeted on December 15, the same date that US companies reported cyber attacks from China.

    “This was not the first instance of an attempt to hack into our computers,” Mr Narayanan told The Times in a rare interview.

    He said that the attack came in the form of an e-mail with a PDF attachment containing a “Trojan” virus, which allows a hacker to access a computer remotely and download or delete files. The virus was detected and officials were told not to log on until it was eliminated, he said.

    “People seem to be fairly sure it was the Chinese. It is difficult to find the exact source but this is the main suspicion. It seems well founded,” he said, adding that India was co-operating with America and Britain to bolster its cyber defences.

    China has denied any role in the hacking attacks, which began on December 15 and also targeted US defence contractors and finance and technology companies, including Google. “Hacking in whatever form is prohibited by law in China,” said Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.

    Nevertheless, the incident is likely to place further strain on India’s relations with the Chinese, who humiliated the Indian Army in a brief war over their Himalayan border in 1962. Relations had been thawing over the past decade but took a sudden turn for the worse last year, when the dispute flared again, prompting India to deploy two more army divisions and fighter jets on its eastern border.

    Underpinning the tensions are India’s concerns about China expanding its influence in Pakistan — India’s arch foe — Burma, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, as well as challenging its naval power in the Indian Ocean.

    Beijing feels threatened by Delhi’s warming relations with Washington, which lifted a ban on selling nuclear material to India in 2008 and is poised to sell it billions of dollars worth of weapons.

    Mr Narayanan said he expected China to be an increasingly high priority for India’s security apparatus — but that the main threat still came from Pakistan-based militants, such as those blamed for the attack on Mumbai in November 2008.

    He said that Pakistan had done nothing to dismantle militant groups since the Mumbai attack, and criticised Britain, in particular, for accepting its excuse that such groups were beyond its control. “The British are still blinkered on this,” he said. “We believe Pakistan’s policy of using terror as a policy weapon remains.”

    India is particularly anxious to prevent a militant attack from disrupting the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October. “From Pakistan’s point of view, it’s important to disrupt the Games so you can claim that India is not a safe place,” Mr Narayanan said.
     

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