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Legion: Meet the hackers who broke into Rahul, Barkha Dutt’s Twitter accounts

tech Updated: Dec 12, 2016 17:07 IST
Anirban Ghoshal
Legion

Legion fancies itself as cyber vigilantes working to expose the corrupt. But the group is yet to bolster their anti-corruption crusader credentials, given that it has so far offered very little valuable information.

A hackers’ group called Legion has repeatedly breached the Twitter accounts of some well-known Indians, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and prominent journalist Barkha Dutt.

Legion has not posted any classified information on the hacked accounts but has threatened to expose email communications among Congress party leaders in the new year. The group has also threatened to expose Dutt’s private emails. Earlier this month, they posted Vijay Mallya’s personal details on his Twitter handle, vowing to bring to justice the fugitive industrialist who has defaulted on at least Rs 7,000 crore bank loans.

Here is some detail about the hackers’ group:

What is Legion?

It is a coalition of like-minded hackers based out of five countries – the United States, Sweden, Canada, Thailand and Romania, according to the Delhi police’s cybercrime cell. The group seeks to expand its activities, leaving its email id -- legion_group@sigaint.org – for more hackers to join their campaign.

Read: Congress, Rahul Gandhi’s hacked Twitter accounts operated from 5 countries

Are they connected with Legion of Doom of the 1980s?

The group does not appear to have any links with the hackers’ group Legion of Doom (LoD) that targeted rich and famous people’s email accounts in the mid-1980s. LoD remained active till early 2000s. However, the two groups appear to share ideological goals in targeting what they say are the rich and corrupt. LoD was founded by US-based hacker Lex Luthor after he broke away from the Knights of Shadow.

Why do they hack people’s accounts?

Legion fancies itself as cyber vigilantes working to expose the corrupt. But the group is yet to bolster their anti-corruption crusader credentials, given that it has so far offered very little valuable information.

How does Legion operate?

Legion communicates through email servers and browsers that are shielded against surveillance. In other words, it does not use Google Chrome or Internet Explorer but a browser called The Onion Router (TOR), which is difficult to track (provides anonymity) and allows a user to communicate directly with another one. This is also called the darknet, a platform often used by activists and journalists seeking to avoid a surveillance dragnet.

Are there other such hackers’ groups?

Yes. Anonymous is another loosely associated international network of activist and hacktivists which started operating in 2003. The group’s website describes it as “an Internet gathering” with “a very loose and decentralised command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives”. The group became known for crashing websites of governments, corporates and religious groups. Anonymous members (known as “Anons”) use the Guy Fawkes mask as their emblem.