Hafiz Saeed sets up 24-hour cyber cell to engineer terror attacks against India. In the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lahore visit, reports claim that Saeed recently attended a two-day conference in Lahore, where cyber war against India was discussed. The poster at the meet described it as a social media conference of the Cyber Team of Jamaat-ud-Dawah. Saeed runs the Lahore-based Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which he claims is a humanitarian charity. The JuD has been blacklisted by the US, which has described it as a foreign terrorist organisation. The UN declared Saeed as a terrorist in December 2008. Saeed, a major nuisance in the already strained relationship between India and Pakistan, has recently slammed Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for giving a warm welcome to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during his surprise visit to Lahore. Last month, there were reports that to make communication secure, terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) had developed a mobile application to stay in touch with its operatives in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to intelligence inputs, Saeed has been repeatedly provoking terrorists against India and delivering ‘motivational’ speeches in terrorist camps to engineer terror acts. Saeed, who orchestrated the November, 2008, Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people were killed, roams around freely in Pakistan despite being a designated terrorist. He is a brain behind many terror attacks in India, now he is preparing virtual attacks on cyber space.
Meanwhile, the cyber war between India and Pakistan is not new, but a terrorist taking interest is something to be noticed. Anyway, hackers are always in search of attacks on each other’s country. Each year, to remember the victims of the attacks and the Indian soldiers that fought the terrorists, Indian hackers go on a spree and deface countless Pakistani websites. The issue at the core of these attacks are the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, known as 26/11 in India, when 10 Pakistani members of Lashkar-e-Toiba carried out 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks around the city of Mumbai. The attacks lasted for four days. Lately, multiple hacking groups from India have carried out coordinated attacks against a large number of Pakistani websites, as revenge for the Mumbai November 26, 2008 terror attacks.
The official website of the Kerala Government: kerala.gov.in, was hacked by a person identifying himself as Faisal Afzal aka ‘Faisal 1337′ for reasons unknown. Within a few hours of the attack, an Indian hacking group hacked more than 250 Pakistan’s websites, which included official website of Pakistan’s President, official website of Pakistan’s Government and official website of Pakistan’s Railways. Previously, Indian hackers have been defacing Pakistani websites around and on November 26 every year post 26/11Mumbai terror attack.
It is a good time for Digital India, the Prime Minister’s programme to get as many people connected as possible to empower them has been a big success and people are connecting to the Internet for the first time. With the increased penetration of technology and the Internet integrating into the infrastructure and lives of people, the cyber security threat was never bigger. However, we are far-off from being even remotely prepared. We don’t have ‘Chip security’, we don’t control the internet conduits, we don’t have indigenous platforms or operating systems, our data is in foreign clouds and we have virtually no capability in terms of the talent needed to secure and or mount offensive cyber operations. Recently, a cyber security persona mentioned that Cyber security is often used as an excuse to violate citizen’s privacy and emphasizing the same he said, “It’s a fine balance between using analytics for the good, better allocation of resources, identifying problems early or bad, invasion of privacy, squashing dissent, amongst others.”
The fact that analysis can unlock great value and hugely benefit our developing country is a given. At the same time, analysis without control comes with its own dangers that have to be safeguarded against. Safeguarding cyberspace has become a key priority for governments, businesses and citizens across the world. Countries have to take appropriate steps in their respective jurisdictions to create required laws, endorse the implementation of necessary security practices, and continuously educate both corporate and home users about cyber security. It is a global problem that has to be addressed by all stakeholders jointly. The main problem here seems to be awareness, both in terms of the general population and the government. Kaspersky Lab has found that three-quarters or 74% of Internet users would download a potentially malicious file, because they lack the ‘cyber-savviness’ they need to spot dangers online. The knowledge of the government doesn’t seem to be much better with hundreds of the government’s websites getting hacked every year by Pakistani hackers.
Mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Hafiz Saeed is believed to have visited LeT camps and motivated recruits to kill Hindus and Indians. Advancing from his terror threats, he is now prepared for cyber-attacks too. He has recruited youth to spread his propaganda online. I hope Indian government and its cyber security experts will take note of it and will prepared to secure the Internet.