Congress slams govt over Twitter hack attacks, fears of server breach loom

Updated on Dec 01, 2016 05:54 PM IST

The Congress has found fresh ammo to hit back at the government following the hacking of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter account. But are they barking up the wrong tree?

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter account was hacked and offensive tweets were posted.(Arun Sharma/HT Photo)
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter account was hacked and offensive tweets were posted.(Arun Sharma/HT Photo)
Saubhadra Chatterji and Anirban Ghoshal, Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

The Congress is livid. The party’s official Twitter account allegedly fell prey to hackers who posted offensive messages on Thursday morning, just 12 hours after vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s account faced a similar ordeal.

But the bad news doesn’t end there. The hackers indicated the breach was much bigger and a cache of confidential internal party emails and correspondence might land up on a public platform such as Wikileaks soon.

Sources said the server that hosted the Congress website and e-mail accounts was hacked, indicating confidential data had been compromised.

“Coming up is a full dump of congress emails, stay tuned for Christmas special,” one of the tweets allegedly posted by the hackers via @INCIndia read. The offensive tweets were erased in a matter of minutes.

Just 12 hours ago, hackers had done something similar to @officeofRG, removing Gandhi’s profile picture and changing the account name and bio.

A screen shot of the Congress’s official Twitter page after it was allegedly hacked into.
A screen shot of the Congress’s official Twitter page after it was allegedly hacked into.

Agencies reported that the information technology ministry has ordered a probe but Twitter refused comment on the matter.

A Twitter account can be hacked in one or more ways. A hacker can either choose to download a tool from thousands of websites available online to hack a person’s profile or use the sheer brute force of programming to get a password, change it and hijack the account.

Reports say the hackers gained access to the Congress’ social media accounts through a targeted attack on the party server, which gave hackers access to all mails and accounts.

The Congress has lashed out at the government for poor cyber security at a time Prime Minister Narendra Modi is exhorting Indians to go cashless.

“Those forcing country to adopt online payment overnight,have they taken steps to ensure a/c of ordinary ppl will be immune from hacking?” tweeted Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel.

“Hacking of@OfficeofRG proves lack of Digital safety around each one of us. Every digital info can be accessed, altered, morphed & modified,” tweeted Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.

But is the opposition party barking up the wrong tree?

Read: Twitter account hacking: BJP hits out at Congress’ ‘regressive thinking’

Experts feel it is futile for the Opposition party to try and corner the government over the hacking of Twitter handles, even in countries with most advanced cyber protection laws, hackers still make a living.

“A hack on Twitter cannot be blamed on the government’s cybersecurity laws as Twitter has its own set of encryption and protection measures which is uniform for all countries,” Saket Modi, co-founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Lucideus, said.

“The Opposition’s allegation that India needs better cyber security laws in lieu of the economy going cashless doesn’t hold in the case of the hack attack on the Congress Twitter handle and Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter handle,” he added.

He also added that the draft amendment of the national encryption policy that would increase the encryption to 128-bits has also been discarded by the government.The party has lodged a formal complaint to the cyber security cell of the Delhi Police. The complaint was filed by Surjewala, demanding strict action against those behind the hacking.

“The way @OfficeOfRG a/c got hacked,as cybercrime & Twitter watched helpless raises serious Q’s on digital safety, Digital India future,”Ahmed Patel said, taking digs at PM Modi’s pet project of Digital India.

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