Following suspicious and unwanted activity on websites of key Indian government organisations, including that of an advisor to the prime minister and the defence establishment DRDO, the websites were shut down briefly yesterday. The websites, maintained by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), were victims of cyber attacks believed to have been carried out by group called SanFour25. The group victimised five other Indian websites and defaced them.
The websites were restored after they were checked. Sources, however, maintain that the websites in question did not contain any secrets, and that all the information was already in the public domain. Among compromised sites were those of the prime minister's advisor on public information, infrastructure and innovations (http://iii.gov.in), and the Recruitment and Assessment Centre (RAC) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) (www.rac.gov.in). The RAC handles scientists' recruitment for the DRDO.
Sites were shut briefly after the outage (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Last month, the email account belonging to the Press Information Bureau (PIB) that handles all communication between the PMO and the media was hacked. As a result, fake emails were sent out with the subject line reading “my terrible situation”. Though the PMO did issue an advisory to control the situation spiralling out of hand, quite a few journalists received the email. As part of the advisory issued by the PMO, those who received the bogus email were requested to ignore it. The advisory read, “It has come to our notice that emails have been received by some journalists from an email ID that impersonates the genuine email ID of the PM Unit, PIB. The fake email comes with the subject line “My Terrible Situation.”
The bogus email sought financial assistance from its recipients and elaborated upon a situation of distress. It read, “I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, I came down to Madrid. Spain, for a short vacation but unfortunately. I was mugged at the park, on my way to the hotel where I lodge. All cash, credit card and my cell phone were stolen from me but luckily for me, I still have my passport with me. I’ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all. My flight leaves in a couple of hours but am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let me leave until i settle the bills.”
From among those who received this email, Gmail users were shown by a warning by Gmail that asked them to be cautious about it. It warned that the sender’s account may have been compromised, and hence this may be a ploy to steal personal information.