Cybercrimes in India

(Based on my talk delivered on July 29, 2015 as a part of the foundation program of IIT Gandhinagar)

As the name suggests, acts of crimes perpetrated on the cyberspace – as opposed to the physical space — are known as cybercrimes.  These crimes essentially make use of one or more electronic devices connected to the computer networks.  Cybercrimes differ from the traditional or physical crimes in that, in the former the perpetrator need not come close to the victim physically to harm her, and that the execution of the crime is done entirely by means of interactions between electronic devices, where the criminal may be located thousands of miles away from the crime scene.

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US government surveillance aided by AT&T, reveals the Snowden document

Yet another bombshell just came from the suspected NSA files smuggled by Edward Snowden. This time the NSA — a US government agency working under the department of defence — is purported to have been in close relationship with the telecom giant AT&T for the purpose of collecting data passing through their networks.

The NYT article.

The NSA targets include the UN also, which is headquartered at New York. It is not clear whether all the “spying” had been done with or without court orders.

To read Matthew Green’s take on this issue from all technical, social and cultural standpoints, click.

Webcam hacking is getting more and more widespread

A hacker can actually turn on your webcam remotely to take live footage of you and your home. One more incident.

The warning follows the creation of a website that allows voyeurs to watch live footage from insecure cameras located around the world. The website, which is based in Russia, accesses the cams using the default login credentials, which are freely available online for thousands of devices. 

The dire condition of Indian mobile phone networks

BBC article here.

Here’s what those mobile phone users deal with every day:

  • Can’t connect: Connecting when “roaming” can be a struggle. If your flight has just landed, several hundred devices power on and try to connect to an overloaded network. On a train, users find it difficult to hold a conversation even when passing through areas with moderate cellular coverage. It’s the same on inter-state highways.
  • Network busy: You have a full signal, but can’t call – common in busy areas such as Delhi’s airport, Gurgaon’s Cyber City (an office area near Delhi), and elsewhere in India’s large metros. Many users keep retrying on auto-redial, which adds to the problem.
  • Call drops: When you, or the person you’re calling, are on the move, it’s common for the call to drop. Often, both of you will try re-dialing, and fail to connect. If one of you moved into an overloaded network area, you may not be able to reconnect easily.
  • No internet: Mobile data is patchy in India. 3G isn’t everywhere, but even where you get a strong 3G signal, you might find no data activity. This is a problem for a country with 240 million mobile internet subscribers – that’s 92% of its total internet subscriber base.
  • Poor signal: A weak mobile signal is common in urban India’s high-rise office and residential areas. The upscale condominium complex in Gurgaon where this writer lives has virtually no mobile service.

Iranian hackers routinely attack airlines, airports, says cio.com

If this article is to be believed, the world is already in the state of a full fledged cyber war, or is on the verge of it. You do not need rocket launchers or nuclear weapons to win a war against your enemy country; you can bring a country to its knees by using cyber weapons.  The full report — published by the IT security firm Cylance — on the skills of Iranian hackers to bring down network services in a far away country is here.

The Operation Cleaver report documents how Iran is the first highly motivated Western world adversary poised to execute serious attacks against global infrastructure, not just targeting the United States, but the critical infrastructure of over a dozen different countries,” said Stuart McClure, Cylance’s CEO and President, in a blog post. “They aren’t looking for credit cards or microchip designs, they are fortifying their hold on dozens of networks that if crippled would affect the lives of billions of people.

The Indian connection: The report also mentions that this Iranian hacking operation — codenamed operation cleaver — has compromised the network data associated with the Indian education sector.