Special security cover is the order of the day on Independence Day-eve — from leaders to landmarks to log-ins.
With the virtual war hotting up — “750 government and corporate websites have been hacked in the past 24 hours” — a team of six city-based computer science and engineering students has set out on a mission to save our cyberspace.
BFI Secure, an association promoted by present and former students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, is working round-the-clock to safeguard the Indian Netscape, “especially against hackers from across the border”, who post “evidence like the national flag” on sites they spoil.
For Bikash Barai, founder-member, BFI Secure, and gang, “the Pakistan-headquartered Federal Bureau of Hackers and The Bugz Pakistan” are enemy No. 1. “These hackers are always active and their prime targets are Indian websites. But, on occasions like Independence Day, they get hyperactive,” says Bikash.
Case in point: there were just 39 cases of hacking in July, but the number has already crossed 1,000 in August, with some government agencies coming under attack, according to data collated by Bikash, Nilanjan, Anirudh, Sibayan, Abhishek and Krishnendu. “Such large-scale hacking can cripple business, industry and administration, besides adding to the security concerns,” warns BFI Secure.
Without waiting for the authorities to wake up to the threat, the 20-something techies have taken it upon themselves to tackle the terror on the Net. “We have done extensive research on the subject and are aware of the vulnerabilities in the system and the patches (shields) to safeguard it. Anyone can get in touch with us and we will offer free services during this critical period,” says Bikash.
According to BFI Secure, the hackers attack a particular site after identifying its soft spots in the operating system and software. This causes the computer not to respond to commands. At times, “the worms” remain inactive in the system before attacking it on a particular day, like I-Day, as programmed by the hackers. Take the Blaster bug, which is causing havoc in both home and office computers in the US and Asia, since surfacing in America last Monday. “Similar to the Blaster programme, which is taking advantage of a security hole in Microsoft Corp’s Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows NT and Windows Server 2003 operating systems, the hackers we are combating are spreading worms in the Indian cyberspace,” explains Bikash.
But will worms be used to fight worms in this Web war' BFI Secure insists it is in defensive mode, but adds that some hacker clubs here may well be on the attack. “Though outfits like The Hindustan Hackers Organisation, which practically paralysed Pakistani administration with the Yaha worm in July 2002, are active on the Web, we are against such cyber offences. Our aim is to make people aware of the dangers and take cyber security seriously.”