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Cyber wars: Pak has an advantage over India

August 16, 2010 14:35 IST

The alleged hacking of industralist Vijay Mallya's website by the Pakistan Cyber Army indicates that the cyber wars between the two counties is on the rise, reports Vicky Nanjappa.

Cyber security experts are of the opinion that such instances will only escalate further, and India will soon find itself on the defensive since it does not have a dedicated agency to counter such attacks.

Indian agencies say that they have always been warning that the next war on terrorism would be on the cyber space since India does not have a proper system to guard it cyber assets.

A cyber war with India commenced in the year 1998 when the nuclear tests in Pokhran were conducted. Minutes after India announced that it had conducted the tests, a group called Milworm hacked into the Bhabha Atomic Research centre website and posted some anti-India messages.

It continued during the Kargil war when a group of hackers from Pakistan hacked into the website www.armyinkashmir.com and posted pictures of atrocities allegedly by the Indian troops.

Pakistan today has three very crucial groups, which are dedicated to hack into Indian sites: The Pakistan Hackers Club, G Force and now the Pakistan Cyber Army.

The most prominent among them is the Pakistan Hackers Club which works specifically for the cause of Kashmir and Palestine. During the Kargil war and the time when India tested its nuclear weapons, both these groups concentrated a lot on India.

However, both these groups have been focusing more on the United States and Israeli establishments lately and reports suggest that they have managed to deface over 215 sites till date.

India started to hit back only in 2000 through a group called the Patriotic Indians. They allegedly defaced websites of the Pakistani government.

However, statistics available show that the ratio of hacking between the two is wide. Pakistan-based hackers have defaced Indian sites nearly 180 times in comparison to the 23 times by the Indian hackers.

The Pakistan Cyber Army was established after some Indian hackers allegedly defaced the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority website of Pakistan.

The claim of the PCA was that some Indian hackers were using abusive language against their country on Pakistani blogs by hacking into them.

They hit back by defacing the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation website and they said that this was done in response to the OGRA website's hacking. Today the same group has hacked into the site belonging to Vijay Mallya.

Cyber security experts say Pakistan has beaten India in this game since the hackers there enjoy the patronage of the security establishment and are a more dedicated group.

The hackers in Pakistan have formed a group and dedicated themselves only for this work, while in India it is most of the time a solo operation and there is no patronage by the security establishment.

Indian security agencies say these Pakistan-based hackers are encouraged by the Pakistni spy agency Inter Services Intelligence, something that the Indian counterparts don't do.

In India, there are a pack of hackers who are more into counterattack, but they are most of the time solo. Moreover, another key difference is that the cyber war from Pakistan is official whereas in India it is not.

Pavan Duggal, an expert on cyber law, told rediff.com that there have been undercurrents on this front for quite sometime now.

"There have been peak and low points of such cyber wars and it usually escalates at the time of war of political developments. The idea of the people from across the border is to create instability by defacing Indian websites," Duggal said.

"Moreover, if you notice that they have been attacking important sites only to show that if websites owned by powerful persons can be hacked, then the entire establishment is weak," he added.

"It is high time that India puts in place a dedicated cyber army to protect the sovereign rights of India in cyber space. We do not have a dedicated cyber army which could work constructively to ward off external threats on our cyber space. There is a political will but no action. We need to take a step further to ensure pro-active preservation of our cyber security and it needs to be government sponsored since today our cyber space is extremely vulnerable," he said.

Vicky Nanjappa