A 17-year-old hacker belonging to the 'Anonymous India' group hacked the website of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last week, after the regulator exposed personal information of people who emailed to voice their opinion about net neutrality in India. Anonymous India stated this in an IRC (Internet Relay Chatroom) conversation with HT.
Referring to themselves as a bunch of collectives fighting against the odds, the group has in past as well cited association with a number of attacks on organisations, government and bodies. The infamous defacement of Kapil Sibal, former Information Technology minister in 2012, BSNL’s website in December 2012 were some of the prior operations undertaken by the group. The reason behind their actions then also was the same -- ‘fighting against the odds’. The group was then protesting against 66A of the IT act and in support of the cartoonist Aseem Trivedi.
Anonymous India, however, recently made headlines when they took down the TRAI website through a DDOS method where however the group states no public information was compromised by them.
Radical and strong headed anarchists in their approach, the group does not work under any ideology. “There is no hierarchy. We are just a bunch of free individuals commanded by our instincts,” they said. Making use of the statement, ‘loose knit hacktivist collectives’ the group communicates through various channels in the IRC. Every operation is first discussed through these channels and then an action is taken.
These discussions have participation of members from all over the world. Many a times questions have been raised on its association with ‘Global Anonymous’ group which has said to have backed the movements at Tunisia and several other international operations to name. However, when this question was raised to the group in the IRC conversation their reaction to it was simple, “First of all there are no boundaries. Every anonymous has a right to participate in any operation. We stand up to whatever comes in our way. The government hates us because we do not think in terms of nationalities which then conflicts with their political inclinations.”
Stating that every mission, every hack which they undertake is primarily discussed, the group said, “We have people taking the call accordingly an operations is either undertook or aborted,” said one of the core members of the group operating under the name of anon1.
Discussing to take down the government website again the group said, that the ministry is incapable of making decisions for the society. “It was a serious error on the part of the government. They have to appologise about it rather than shifting the blame on their faulty routers. It is criminal on the part of the government to release such sacred information. They never realise how vulnerable they are to a threat, moreover with their actions they are making the citizens soft targets to every spammer in the world,” said anon2.
Hours after this chat, the group published a claim taking down NIC servers along with the ministry of telecommunications website through their twitter handle.
While the group states that this entire operation of hacking and defacing is a part of their protest to make the government do the right thing. Not many seem to agree. Nikhil Pahwa, editor of Medianama.com and a vocal net neutrality activist tweeted to the group on Wednesday.
you've given cause for licensing of Internet apps in India and much more. The damage you are causing is irreparable.”
When HT spoke to Pahwa he said, “Anonymous India sees this is a form of protest, but the government will see it as an attack on India. This could actually shift the focus from the issue of net neutrality to using regulation to ensure security in India.”
However, irrespective of the opposition the group faces from the government and some users, Anonymous India feels that their attacks are required to create awareness amongst the masses. “Many people oppose us they want us to join hands with government and advise them with their system. But we do not believe in this system (Government) at all. It’s a disaster. The government would never be interested in anything except for our marklists and which caste we belong to.”