The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Puzzle over needle, cell hack
- Experts mull over Chatra DC ‘illness’ and ‘fake’ SMSes

Ranchi, Nov. 3: Government officials and doctors are mystified by reports of the alleged hacking of Chatra deputy commissioner Puja Singhal Purwar’s mobile phone and continued to be baffled by her “serious illness” caused by “pinpricks”.

No government officer was ready to speak on record on the issues. Chief minister Madhu Koda said he was waiting for a report.

Doctors said pathological tests have established that there was no trace of poison in her body nor was there any sign of needle attack. They have not submitted any needle, which was said to have pricked her, they said.

Apollo Hospital superintendent Dr P.D. Sinha said Purwar was discharged today after she was found to be all right. “But we have received a call again that she was not feeling well. So, she might be admitted again,” he added.

So far, the doctors have conducted an ECG, echo cardiogram, endoscopy, blood urea, ultrasound, BTCT and other pathological tests on the IAS officer after she was admitted on November 1. There was no explanation, however, as to how she became unconscious or when she vomited after receiving the pinpricks. There is no such mechanism by which someone could attack with a poison-tipped needle, pointed out a senior police officer.

In her statement to the police, Purwar has said she felt an excruciating pain in her waist as if something had pricked her.

Adding to the mystery are reports that her mobile number was hacked to send messages to senior officers such as Chatra superintendent of police Akhilesh Jha.

Chatra deputy superintendent Rajeev Ranjan has lodged an FIR stating that the SP and several senior IAS officers in Ranchi had received a message on Wednesday purportedly from the DC’s mobile that Maoist rebels had “killed” Jha along with 25 security personnel in an “ambush”. But when they rang back, Purwar said she was not aware of having sent any such message.

Ranjan claimed he too had received a call from the Chatra DC’s number in which she had summoned him to her office. However, when the DSP reached her office, she denied having called him.

Government officers argued that if the fake SMSs were part of a psychological war launched by the Maoists, such messages would have been sent when the DC was holding a janata durbar or conducting some programmes in a remote village. The Maoists could have done it with an aim of trapping the police in a landmine blast, a senior security officer said.

Experts said GPRS-enabled mobile phones could be hacked with the help of easily available software on the Internet. Hackers can clone the SIM card and shift charges of his calls and messages on the other number.

Vineet Kumar, a member of the national anti-hacking group, said one could even use somebody else’s mobile number to make a crank call as well sending the SMSs, using the VOIP (Voice over Internel Protocol) software. This software, which comes free up to $5, works in Ranchi as well.

He said the systems of most telecom companies were vulnerable to hacking.

BSNL general manager (mobile) Navendra Nath said the BSNL system was as vulnerable as the others, because the equipment source is the same for all.

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