Kargil to Cyberia: The Paradigm Shift

Unlike the BARC crack last year, no sensitive mail was picked up and distributed. And
yet….DoE and Ernet are the backbone of government networks—a staging ground for
bigger attacks.

Even scarier was the DoE’s lack of response. No one moved to retrieve the site, or
even pull the network cable. For over 10 hours, the hackers had the run of the machine,
and perhaps networks which “trusted” this one.

It was Sunday evening. The hack spread on the Internet and on TV. Our attempts totrack
down DoE officials failed, phone calls and e-mail got no response. The response, finally,
was too little and too late, while the DoE site got the most traffic it had ever got in
its life.

The hackers, two students who make up the ‘Pakistan Hackerz Club’, have
invaded over 75 Web sites in recent months, posting the same message—at sites in
China, the US, and elsewhere.

Hacktivism is public activism through cracking sites and networks. Today, it strikes

The physical world has security systems to deter break-in attempts. The online world
often does not. It’s easy to make repeated crack attempts without detection. Most
servers are not secure. If the DoE is so easily cracked, many companies are easy prey,
with helpful “resource sites” sites run by hacker groups such as the Cult of the
Dead Cow.

Is hacktivism warranted? An Indonesian site overrun by East Timor graffiti—so
what? But hacktivism doesn’t stop there. As e-commerce takes off, crackers will move
on to critical corporate networks. Cracker programs and software such as Satan and Back
Orifice will scout the Net for easy gateways and soft targets, hackers will take on the
tougher challenges.

Is your network safe? Or your Website?

A crack may sound like defacing an ad hoarding, but there’s a big difference. You
don’t keep your worldly goods in a box behind the hoarding. But your network is your
enterprise, with information critical to core processes. The Website’s the public
face, and even a non-serious hack—say, graffiti on an ICICI Website—can make
customers very jittery.

In the new millennium, there will be fewer Kargils as we know them. The battleground is
borderless Cyberia. The target, the enterprise and government; the enemy unseen, and

It’s a bigger deal by far than the Y2k bug.
How we gear up to face it will affect the health of both enterprise and government, beyond

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