October 1999 News

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Pak hackers spin web around Kashmir

10 October 1999
The Indian Express
Chindanand Rajghatta

WASHINGTON: Pakistani cybervandals are defacing dozens of Internet sites across the world to draw attention to the Kashmir issue, prominent webmasters and websites are reporting.

According to several sites which monitor Internet hacking activity, a group calling itself the Pakistan Hackerz Club (PHC) has broken into some 40 web sites, replacing the main page with a PHC logo, pictures of alleged Indian atrocities in Kashmir, and literature on the Kashmir problem.

The cyberactivity, which was brought to the notice of this paper early this week by a Washington-based code writer, is now the talk of the Net world because the hackers are defacing not just India-related sites, but any prominent sites which have a lot of visitors.

Monitoring groups say PHC appears to have two students who go by the name of Doctor Nuker and Mr. - Sweet. According to the well-known hacking site Attrition.org, PHC has vandalised hacking 61 sites in all since July 4. It stepped up its activity as India went to the polls.

"Our goal is to bring attention to violence in Kashmir, but that's just not going to be our only goal. PHC will hack for all the injustice going on in this world, especially the killings and injustice with Muslims. The United Nations and the United States never forget to act urgent on other small issues but they never give a damn about the Kashmir issue," one technology website quoted `Doctor Nuker' as saying.

The latest hacking spurt has once again drawn attention to what one hackers' site called Cult of the Dead Cow terms a `cultural jihad.'

Increasingly, hackers are taking to activism on the net, giving rise to a new field called Hacktivism, the combination of hacking and public activism.

In recent times, hackers have turned into cyberguerrilas to focus attention on hot button issues like Kosovo and East Timor. Attrition.com lists over 1,5000 incidents of hacking in the current year.

Typically, hackers or hacker groups break into a prominent website and overwrite the contents. Sometimes hackers also break into sites simply to expose security flaws. More recently, a hacker group called Level Seven Crew replaced the home page of the US embassy in China with racist comments.

Hackers have also been routinely breaking into prominent websites like NASA just to prove a point about their skill.'

While Indian computer professionals are acknowledged to have acquired a reputation of being industrious workers, their Pakistanis counterparts appear to be in the news more for their subversive activity like defacing sites and inventing computer viruses. Pakistanis are credited with letting loose one of the world's first computer viruses called 'brain'.

Indian officials said no Indian site had been affected so far by Pakistani hacking activity. However, they were instructing web hosts to improve security firewalls. The Indian government has several diplomatic and military websites, including the crudely named armyinkashmir.org.


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