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Anonymous Hacks Indian Site in Fight Against Corruption

Hacker group Anonymous has come out in support of a civil movement against corruption in India by hacking one of the websites of a government IT organization.

Until now a large number of the hacks of websites in India were part of an ongoing cyber war between Indian and Pakistani hacker groups.

Anonymous put up its logo and a message for the country's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the website of the National Informatics Center according to The Hacker News. The page could not be accessed by Tuesday, but a cache of it on Google Search confirmed that it had been defaced by Anonymous.

"There is no use securing. There is no use of spending on forensic. Get this message clear Mr. Prime Minister and others", the message read.

The NIC is responsible for promoting and implementing IT projects including e-governance projects in the country.

A cached image on Google search suggests that the hacked part of the site was primarily an e-governance newsletter of NIC. On Tuesday this part of the NIC site was "under maintenance".

NIC did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. There was however no data stolen by the hack, or any damage done, according to a government expert on cyber security. "This was more a playful threat, that exploited some weaknesses of the NIC site," the official said on condition of anonymity.

A large number of Indians have rallied behind social activist Anna Hazare and a yoga guru Baba Ramdev in a fight against corruption in India. Ramdev's fast in Delhi was broken up over the weekend by the police, and he and his supporters were evicted from the venue.

Anonymous said in a message on Twitter that the NIC site had been defaced because of violence against Ramdev by the central government. Earlier it extended an invitation through Twitter for users to join in an operation against corruption in India.

Anonymous has also set up an Operation India page on Facebook, and an account on Twitter to carry on the fight against corruption in India.

In another high-profile hack in the country, the website of India's top investigation agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, was hacked in December by a Pakistani group that said they it was taking revenge for similar attacks on websites in Pakistan. India and Pakistan have a long-standing dispute over Kashmir, which has spilled over online. The CBI site was not restored for weeks after the hack.

India's Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology, Sachin Pilot, told Parliament in May that the Government has taken several measures to detect and prevent cyber attacks and espionage. By computer security guidelines issued by Government, no sensitive information is to be stored on systems that are connected to Internet, he said.

The government has also formulated a Crisis Management Plan for countering cyber attacks and cyber terrorism for implementation by all ministries and departments of the federal, and state governments and critical sectors, Pilot said. Ministries and departments have also been advised to audit their IT systems regularly. Most often these guidelines are not taken seriously and a large number of hacks could have been avoided, an analyst said on condition of anonymity.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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