HYDERABAD: In a shocking revelation, it has come to the fore that Ghost Squad Hackers, a politically-motivated hacker group, has been targeting the Indian government websites, including that of Telangana, as a protest against the internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir.
Recently, the group, which had earlier leaked sensitive data pertaining to the US and Israeli governments and had targeted the ISIS, hacked into the Telangana government’s Rural Development Human Resource Management (RDHRMS) website. This website is an employee management platform for the Commissionerate of Rural Development, and its website says, “Tata Consultancy Services, Hyderabad- IT consultants, developed the web-based software for Human Resources Management System”. It further says it provides various services like “online recruitment, training, payment generation, contract renewals, annual increments, disciplinary processes” and other details, which may be private in nature to a person.
The site was hacked around March 19 by ‘S1ege’, who is a self-anointed administrator of the Ghost Squad Hackers. The hacked page, whose ‘mirror image’ is still available on various websites to see, shows that the homepage for http://www.rdhrms.telangana.gov.in was not in its original form, but had a dark screen with a message that said, “Hacked by S1ege. Greetz (sic) to all #GSHmembers.” The page was soon taken down by the officials and was rectified later.
The Express on Wednesday managed to contact S1ege over email, who explained how he got access to the website. “We discovered a private exploit in the software that the servers were using, allowing us to gain remote access to them. There were some egress filters, but we managed to bypass the firewall and upload a shell. After gaining access, we escalated privileges and defaced the web root index of the server,” S1ege said.
Other Indian government websites hacked too
This is not the only Indian government website that the group has hacked, but several websites belonging to the Punjab government and other State governments were compromised too. When asked about the reason behind carrying out such cyber attacks, S1ege said, “We were motivated to deface the Indian government websites due to internet censorship in Kashmir.” There has been severe curbs on internet in Jammu and Kashmir since its special status was revoked on August 5. A few days ago, the SC, while hearing the matter, decided to form special committees to review the matter.