Popular Indian websites are prone to hacking by Pakistan-based groups, especially during major events such as Independence Day and cricket match between the two countries, according to a research report by an organisation backed by the US intelligence agency CIA.
The pattern of cyber attacks during several events or incidents like 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks were analysed by the Boston-based company Recorded Future. In its report, the organisation suggested that there are many possible motivations and objectives of the cyber activities between India and Pakistan. The report spoke about attacks ranging from loosely- affiliated hacktivist groups defacing symbols and institutions to more coordinated state-sponsored attacks.
The co-author of the report, Nagaraj Seshadri, said that these attacks were largely carried out by “nationalistic hacker groups”. “The objective mostly is public embarrassment. If there is a big event, or if there is a big anniversary in the physical world or geo-political context, it is important to be vigilant on the cyber context and be prepared as well when it comes to websites or other cyber assets,” he said.
The report also focuses on the predictable pattern of attacks during the Independence Day celebrations of both countries on August 14 and August 15. During these two days, they create a predictable pattern (at least over the past three years) of attacks and retaliatory strikes by the opposing hacker groups.
Speaking about the activities of the Pakistan Cyber army, the report shows that it has been consistently active at least since the 2007 hacking when high-profile Indian websites were shut down. The targets by PCA have been the Indian government and private sites, including Indian Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Indian Railways, the Central Bureau of Investigation, Central Bank of India, and the State Government of Kerala.
The report also spoke about the role of several Indian groups which retaliate to the Pakistani cyber attacks. It has added that websites associated with the Indian government need to be extra careful and take necessary precautionary measures to protect them from cyber-attacks during major events between the two countries.
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