New Year 2013 Anonymous

Happy New Year 2013

The year 2012 was quite unusual in many aspects as many new and varied hacking incidents were reported across the globe and hackers spared no chance to challenge existing security measures irrespective of the geographical location. Interestingly, various hackers used hacking to voice their concern over the degrading condition of the society and redefined hacking in the process.

Happy New Year 2013

Happy New Year 2013

It will not be wrong to state that the year belonged almost completely to the elite and elusively notorious hacking congregation known as Anonymous. The hacking collective performed the most famous hacks this year and gave stern retaliation to many governments and organizations across the globe. The group continued its method of hacking for bringing about a change in the society and to
express disgust at the several oppressive practices being perpetrated by many governments, which they call their “hacktivism”. They gained much appreciation for their hacking efforts when they protested strongly against Internet censorship during the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) incident and further during the Pirate Bay and Megaupload incident which happened during the start of the year. They continued attacking many government sites, prominently the UK government during the mid year period and they organized protests outside the London Stock Exchange and also protested outside the British Parliament on the Guy Fawkes Day against rising poverty and inflation. Anonymous did not spare religious organizations and attacked the Church of Scientology considering them to be proponents of censorship. Furthermore, they took on the social networking site Facebook and promised to destroy the site on Guy Fawkes Day if they did not oppose the shelving of workforce by their partner gaming site Zynga. They rounded up the year with attacks on Israeli government for their air strikes on Gaza which killed many innocents and also attacked the Syrian government sites after the state imposed an internet blackout. Moreover, they also helped in nabbing some criminals, notably the persons who harassed a young student on Facebook to the extent that she committed suicide, and also a pedophiliac internet predator whose whereabouts were made known to the police by the members of Anonymous. However, the reception of the group remains mixed as many agencies still take them to be “hackers on steroids” and many are still skeptical of their hacktivism.

Many other hackers, individually and in groups, performed many acts of hacktivism and exposed the vulnerabilities in their security apparatus of many organizations which has definitely made them take a hard look at their security. Moreover, numerous security organizations, prominently the Kaspersky Lab are in the process of developing new hacking proof software for preventing unwelcome intrusions.

Evidently, not all hackers have taken the route of social hacking and many hackers with malicious intents also remained active and performed attacks and obviously did a lot of damage to many organizations, and there were some who were dealt with strictly by the law, notably the teenage haker UG Nazi who was handed a restraining order and was banned from the internet for six long years.

However, it can be asserted that the year belonged to the social “hacktivism” overall which was further fueled by the actions of Anonymous and other hackers which is a good sign about the changing mentality of hackers. Surely, the coming year will also have many memorable hacking incidents and one can bank on Anonymous and other talented hackers for enough fireworks in the coming year as well which will be appreciated by some and despised by others. On that note, it is time to wish Happy New
Year to one and all.

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Child Porn on Indian Government websites

Over the past few months, a new plague has come up to haunt the Indian cyberspace and this time the perpetrators are using the government itself as a platform to show the pathetic situation. It has been seen that many websites which are in fact websites of the Indian government are plagued with child pornography content. This is indeed surprising and shocking that cyber criminals have acquired such audacity that they are actually posting pornographic content on the government websites themselves. The matter was raised after some netizens observed such content on the websites of the Indian government.

Child Porn on Indian Government websites

Child Porn on Indian Government websites

Upon detailed analysis of many government websites, it was found that this shocking fact is true. It was seen that more than 30 sub domains which belong to “entegramam.gov.in” in which “entegramam” means “my village” and the various names of the other sub domains have been kept on the names of the various cities in the state of Kerala. The websites are in Malayalam language and are powered by the vulnerable versions of Drupal and Joomla which have discussion forums as well. Most of the posts pasted on the forums and which contain porn are dated as back as “2012/08/30” which means that these websites are hosting porn for more than four months and none of the authorities and administrators of the websites are aware of the pitiful situation. One can find most such pages on Google itself by simply entering the search keywords “site:gov.in nude” and moreover a warning message “This site may be compromised” is displayed on Google when one attempts to open any of these websites which means that these sites are prone to hacks also.

These sites were started by Kerala government as a measure to generate awareness and share information regarding the various government projects related to “Health”, “Education”, “Tourism”, “Science”, “Sports” etc. Most of the threads on these forums are active till date and this reflects the lack of any control on part of the administrators and a complete lack of security.

Moreover, it is not that there is a lack of a law which prohibits the creation and transmission of child pornography. In fact, such a law was passed in February 2009 by the Parliament of India under the Information Technology Bill, which prohibits any transmission or creation of pornography and provides for stringent punitive action against anyone who creates or seeks child pornography can be dealt with a sentence of a prison term of up to 5 years and a fine of Rs. 1 lakh.

This means a complete lack of any control or moderation on part of the government concerning such a heinous and shameful act. Moreover, a government agency has estimated that the total number of hacking related incidents and cyber crime is more than 14000 up to October this year and is on a steady rise. Well, this incident must act as an eye opener for the government who need to take strict measure for cyber security and rectify this situation immediately.

Anonymous leaks database from Israeli Musical Act Magazine site #OpIsrael

Anonymous, the elite hacking collective, have hacked the database of the website of a leading Audio and Music Technology magazine from Israel, the Musical Act and released the hacked data from the server on the internet. The hack was performed during the wee hours of 17th December by a #UGNazi hacker with the twitter handle @OsamaTheGod. The Musical Act magazine is one of the leading online platforms for musicians as it contains updates about new musical developments and trends. This means that the #OpIsrael, which was launched by Anonymous in November against the Government of Israel, is still going strong and is confirmed by the latest hack.

The hacker OsamaTheGod announced the hack via twitter and the leaked database was pasted to anonpaste.me. The twitter message tweeted by the hacker is
 
“#Hacked #UGNazi act.co.ilIPS,Phones,Addresses,Passwords anonpaste.me/anonpaste/?3c7… #OpIsrael
— MrOsama (@OsamaTheGod) December 17, 2012 “

Anonymous leaks database from Israeli Musical Act Magazine site #OpIsrael

Anonymous leaks database from Israeli Musical Act Magazine site #OpIsrael

The leaked data consists of more than 10,000 email addresses but the data has been broken up into a few sections. The first section contains the user ID’s, names, and clear text passwords. The next section pertains to IP data, phones and email addresses with ID’s and the last part contains complete personal credentials such as addresses and other phone numbers etc. The data has also been posted on the forums of the hacked site of the magazine stating that they have been hacked.

This attack is not the first on the Israel cyber sphere since the launch of the OpIsrael which was started as retaliation for the violence being perpetrated by the Government in the Gaza, their plans to use Twitter to announce war, and against their threat to shut down the internet in Gaza. The Anonymous had issued a press release which warned the Israeli Government of severe action

“When the government of Israel publicly threatened to sever all Internet and other telecommunications into and out of Gaza they crossed a line in the sand. As the former dictator of Egypt Mubarack learned the hard way – we are ANONYMOUS and NO ONE shuts down the Internet on our watch. To the IDF and government of Israel we issue you this warning only once. Do NOT shut down the Internet into the “Occupied Territories”, and cease and desist from your terror upon the innocent people of Palestine or you will know the full and unbridled wrath of Anonymous. And like all the other evil governments that have faced our rage, you will NOT survive it unscathed.”

It seems that the Anonymous is holding well on their promise of action against Israel as they have brought down many Israeli government and non government websites in the recent times since their announcement of #OpIsrael. Well, it will be a matter of speculation to tell when these attacks against Israel will end as the number of supporters of “hacktivism” and Anonymous is growing every day.

Accused UGA Hacker committed suicide

An investigation into a security cyber breach into the computerized personnel records at the University of Georgia has revealed a startling fact, that a former University of Georgia, who was a suspect in the hacking case, has committed suicide during the last month. According to various reports, the suspected former student, Charles Staples Stell, was found dead in his home in Athens in Greece on November 7 when the investigation of this breach was going on. Stell had attended classes at the UGA between 2005 and 2007.

Accused UGA Hacker committed suicide

Accused UGA Hacker committed suicide

The security breach into the University of Georgia’s records was reported in October when more than 8,500 personnel records of current and former employees were accessed by an unknown person at that time. However, the alleged involvement of Stell, and his subsequent suicide was made public only last week when the police learned of the developments themselves “At this point, we felt the public needed to know for them to have some closure,” UGA police Lt. Eric Dellinger said. The trespass was reported on the 5th of October to the UGA Police by Enterprise Information Technology Service, the central IT organization for the university students, staff and faculty. Upon learning of the security breach, the UGA Vice President for Information Technology commented that
 “This appears to us to be a planned intrusion by someone who knew enough about our operations to know which accounts to attack and where the sensitive information was located within the system,”

  Also, the police commented that there is no evidence that the compromised data which included social security numbers, employee names, and other personal information was used to perpetrate any additional crimes as of now. The employee files which were stolen in the breach were found to be in the possession of Stell, however, there is no evidence that the information left Stell’s possession any time after the breach.

He was a student of the University of Georgia for two years between 2005 and 2007 and was not formally charged with any crime till the time of his death. The police commented that they cannot confirm whether his death had something to do with the ongoing investigation into his alleged role in the hacking incident. Well, as per the police reports, he died from a self inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Athens.  The Athens Clarke County Police maintain that no foul play is suspected in his death and a final confirmation can be received only after the Autopsy is performed.

This incident is surely a confusing one and has led to polarized reactions from the people as many believe that his death was not a suicide and are suspecting involvement of foul play even after assurances from the Police. There have been no comments from the officials at University of Georgia regarding this incident.

BSNL telecom server hacked by Anonymous Group

BSNL telecom server hacked by Anonymous Group against Section 66A of IT Act

The Indian chapter of the hacking collective Anonymous has hacked the website of the largest state run telecom services provider in the country, the Bharatiya Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). The hack was done in order to protest against the section 66A of the IT act, a law that is concerned with internet censorship and content regulation due to which a cartoonist named Aseem Trivedi was arrested on charges of sedition a while back by the Indian authorities when he put caricatures regarding the constitution and corruption in a rally. The company which is the fourth largest telecom provider and the biggest fixed telephony provider in India was hacked todayafternoon and the website was defaced. The BSNL website was last hacked in 2011 by a Pakistani hacker. Anonymous, which does not have a record of being active in India, rose to prominence when it hacked the Reliance Communications server earlier this year.

The homepage of the website was hacked and defaced with the message ” Hacked by Anonymous India, support Aseem trivedi (cartoonist) and alok dixit on the hunger strike, remove IT Act 66a, databases of all 250 bsnl site has been deleted………….Do not think of BACKUP” and showed an image of Aseem Trivedi being arrested by the police.

BSNL telecom server hacked by Anonymous Group

BSNL telecom server hacked by Anonymous Group

The hackers further claimed that they had hacked all the sites under BSNL and deleted their databases. To prove their claims, the hackers pasted the dump file of all the sites on pastebin. Upon analysis of the dump file, it can easily be observed that the level of security on the sites is really not up to the mark and is quite pathetic, and many sites had passwords such as “password123”, “password”, “vpt123”, “enquiry999” were being used. Such easy passwords can be bruteforced by hackers in minutes and this gave the hackers easy access to their sites and this carelessness has been criticized by one and all. The site has returned to  normal level of functioning at the time of writing.

 The Section 66A of the IT act is a law that provisions punishment for sending offensive messages through any communication medium or service and a censorship on any information offensive or menacing in character which causes annoyance, inconvenience, hatred etc. by making use of a communication device or a computer. The law also places a punishment on deceptive or offensive emails and messages and all of the above mentioned offenses can be given an imprisonment of up to 3 years with fine.

The Anonymous have urged all to support them and Aseem Trivedi in their fight against Internet censorship so that the government is forced to roll back the controversial law. The website of the Union IT Minister Kapil Sibal was also hacked last month by Anonymous India in regard with the issue of internet censorship.

The protests against censorship of the Internet in India has been gaining momentum in India with many experts and well known personalities criticizing it and terming it as an oppressor of the right to freedom of expression and speech and this incident will surely rouse the government.

Anonymous hit Egyptian government website

Anonymous hit Egyptian government website as #OpEgypt

The famous and notorious hacking collective Anonymous has lashed out at the Egyptian government and attacked many state run websites during the past weekend as a mark of their protest against the recent upheaval in Egypt and the poor handling of the incident by the government. This is not the first time that Egyptian sites have been targeted by the hacking group who attacked Egypt in 2011 also when protests against Mubarak started and played an important back then too.

Anonymous hit Egyptian government website as #OpEgypt

Anonymous hit Egyptian government website as #OpEgypt

The hackers have perpetrated a well orchestrated and executed Distributed Denial of Service attack on the Egyptian government websites and have brought down more than 30 websites belonging to the state, including the Egyptian Ministry of Information, the country’s Minister of Interior, The Egyptian Cabinet, Trade Agreement Sector, Income Tax department, along with the President’s website and Bureau for Tourism website. The hackers have named this attack as #OpEgypt. The attacks are in support of the recent protests being raised by the people of Egypt against the current government and the brutal treatment given to the protesters by the military and armed force and the anonymous has posted  on their facebook and twitter pages a strong message to the current President of Egypt Dr. Morsi :

 “ To Dr. Morsi : Anonymous will not sit by you washing away what thousands of Egyptians got killed and injured for. It’s your duty to listen to your own people.

The decisions you made have caused the death of 3 young Egyptians in addition to Hundreds more injured. In addition, your organized propaganda is portraying your legitimate opposition as if they are opposing the revolution, which you are destroying. We challenge your propaganda machine.

When you ignore this message, not only will we attack your organization’s websites, Anonymous will also make sure that you stand exposed against your people as well as the international community. Anonymous will not support anyone who supports such crimes.

It’s in your hands to stop this: continue hardening your head and you will be subject to civil protest – lend an ear to the claim of freedom from your people and the hostilities will cease. ”

Well, the hackers have made their intentions pretty clear with this message and this is not the first message in the past few days. In fact, the Anonymous had posted a video message on the 28th November, 2012, for the Egyptian president which contained the same message and promised cyber attacks if the Egyptian government did not comply. Surely, the Anonymous has made good on their promise and delivered as always.

As of now, most of the sites have been restored to normal; however, the Presidential website is still under maintenance.
 
The hackers have been gathering a lot of support online with many people openly supporting the group and lauding them for their hacking for social causes. However, the effectiveness of such hacktivism remains a matter of intense speculation but the potential of such attacks cannot be denied, as was witnessed during the 2011 Egyptian uprising.