Friday, April 24, 2009

Shoot at site: Cyber terror hits parties

25 Apr 2009, 0521 hrs IST, Indrani Bagchi, TNN



NEW DELHI: In the run-up to polls, it's not just Pakistan-based terrorists and Naxalites who are engaged in target practice in India.
Cyber-terrorists have been equally at work, and far more successfully. Over the past couple of months, Indian government and political parties have been subjected to lots of attacks. The AICC was a target, as was the Bihar chief electoral officer's computers, the Maharashtra chief electoral officer's computers and even L K Advani's website.

No, these are not attacks which stop you from using your computers. The cyber-terrorists' world is more arcane than that — these attacks have been in the form of unintelligible gibberish like Bots, phishing, malware, etc, even viruses and Trojans that commandeer keyboards and webcams. Most of the time, you don't know you have been attacked, or that somebody in a far corner of the world has maliciously taken over your computer and is using it to launch attacks.

Sources said cyber-terrorism had increased exponentially in the past months, with India's NIC among the highest attacked servers. They are vulnerable not because they don't know how to protect themselves, but the speed at which government moves is glacial compared to the cyber-criminal or cyber spy. So, by the time government acquires any new equipment or technology, the other side has moved on, leaving NIC to fight the last battle. As one senior government official said ruefully, "NIC is asked to race with one arm tied behind its back."

In the cyber-espionage world, Pakistan is not a big threat. The big daddies of cyber-espionage targeting India are China, Russia and US. According to Symantec's latest report on internet security threat in Asia-Pacific region, China was No.1 in sending out malicious attacks in 2008 — 41% of the total.

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