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Wednesday, 24 October, 2001, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Indian news sites hacked
The hacked Punjab government Website
The Pakistan Government site: Hacked after the coup
By BBC News Online's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi

Two of India's leading news organisations are reviewing their cyber security after their websites were hacked, allegedly by Pakistani-based groups.

Zee News and India Today were at the receiving end on Tuesday when their portals were hacked by the Pakistani-based Gforce Pakistan and Pakistani Hackerz Club.

It is a militia attack on what we do

Sudeep Chakravarti, India Today
Last week, these groups defaced two US Government sites and left messages attacking the military strikes on Afghanistan and threatening George Bush and Tony Blair.

They have now targeted the two Indian portals, apparently because they carried news stories on militant groups operating inside Pakistan and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

Both the sites targeted - and India - were down for about an hour as technical teams grappled with the problem.

They left messages repeating comments made by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf over the weekend, warning India against launching raids on Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

"They also said they would target other Indian sites - including those of the Indian atomic research agency," Deepak Malhotra of Zee News told BBC News Online.

Sudeep Chakravarti, Executive Editor of India Today Group Online, says that they their site was hacked from a server in the United States.

"It is a militia attack on what we do. But it only had nuisance value," he told BBC News Online.

The attack temporarily blocked access to several India Today websites, but not any of its news sites.

It is the first time any of their websites have been hacked, although Zee has been hacked before.

"Since the past few months our websites operate on secure servers," Mr Malhotra said.

"We are now troubleshooting to try and figure out what went wrong."


Gforce is fast earning a reputation as an international hacker and is said to have defaced over 200 sites over the past year.

We're proud Pakistani hackers, we stand for a cause, for a reason

Gforce statement
A counter hacking group, Yihat, has forwarded contacts for Gforce - said to operate out of Karachi - to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"All over the world hackers find new ways of getting in," says Mr Chakravarti.

"It's an ongoing battle."

Gforce's signature is to leave a message stating: "We're proud Pakistani hackers, we stand for a cause, for a reason."

Two years ago, when President Musharraf ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup, Pakistani hackers broke into the official Pakistani Government website to leave a message congratulating the general.

And during the Kargil conflict in 1999, Pakistani hackers defaced an Indian Army site and left messages in support of Kashmiri separatists.

See also:

13 Oct 99 | South Asia
Pakistani coup spreads to the Internet
12 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
India opens virtual front in Kashmir
06 Jul 99 | South Asia
Indian army Website ambushed
24 Oct 98 | Monitoring
Cyberwarfare breaks out on internet
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