We all are aware of the wars India and Pakistan have fought and the resulted destruction especially precious human lives. In the current information age, some battles are not only fought with guns and tanks but also through media, internet and pen. Since the advent of Information Technology among the masses of South Asia in mid 1990s, the pace of cyber wars between Pakistan and India have also been increased.
Cyberwars between the two countries started in May 1998, when India conducted its nuclear tests. Soon after India officially announced the test, a group of Pakistan-based hackers called milw0rm broke into the Bhabha Atomic Research Center web site and posted anti-India and anti-nuclear messages. The cyberwars usually have been limited to defacements of each others' sites. Defacement is a low level damage, in which only the home page of a site is replaced with hacker's own page, usually with some message for the victim. Such defacements started in May 1998 and continued during Kargil War in 1999 and then during that era when the tension between India and Pakistan was at its peak from Dec 2001 to 2002. Therefore, the period between 1999 to 2002 was very crucial, when the troops were busy across the LOC exchanging gunshots and the hackers busy in defacing sites of each others.
According to attrition.org, a web site that tracks computer security related developments on the internet, show that attacks on Indian websites increased from 4 in 1999 to 72 in 2000 where as the Pakistani websites were hacked 7 times in 1999 and 18 times in 2000. During the first half of 2001, 150 Indian websites were defaced.
During Kargil war, the first Indian site reported to be hacked was http://www.armyinkashmir.com, established by the Indian government to provide factual information about daily events in the Kashmir Valley. The hackers posted photographs showing Indian military forces allegedly killing Kashmiri militants. The pictures sported captions like 'Massacre,' Torture,' 'Extrajudicial execution' and 'The agony of crackdown' and blamed the Indian government for its alleged atrocities in Kashmir. That was followed by defacement of numerous Indian governmental sites and reciprocal attacks on Pakistani sites.
Two prominent Pakistani hacker groups are PHC (Pakistan Hackers Club) and G-Force. The founder of PHC is Dr. Nuker. The US Department of Justice has identified "Doctor Nuker" as Misbah Khan of Karachi. Misbah Khan was involved in defacement of the official site of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Doctor Nuker struck back with an interview to a magazine Newsbytes where he claimed that the 'federal grand jury made a mistake in indicting Misbah Khan of Karachi' and that 'he merely uses insecure servers in Pakistan to get online anonymously'. Doctor Nuker has been featured in international publications including Time and Newsweek.
G-Force is based in Lahore and it consists of eight members. Both Pakistan Hackers Club and G-Force are professional hackers with a specific aim: to work for the cause of Kashmir and Palestine. It is still to be seen how their hackings are helping the cause of Palestine or Kashmir! Pakistan Hackers Club has been around since quite long and apart from Indian site, they have defaced many USA and Israeli sites including US Department of Energy's site. G-Force was founded in May 1999 after the nuclear tests and their initial target was Indian sites but after 9/11, their concentration has been shifted to US-based sites. According to zone-h.org, G-Force has successfully defaced 212 sites. G-Force's "achievements" includes National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and three military sites associated with the US Defence Test and Evaluation Professional Institute.
During this cyberwar, in December 2000, a wired.com news story created waves that claimed that an Indian hacker's group "Patriotic Indians" has defaced the official site of Pakistani government pakgov.org. Later, it was revealed that the actual site of Pakistani government is pak.gov.pk, not pakgov.org and pakgov.org was in fact registered by the alleged hacker himself with fake information.
On the Indian side, there are various hackers groups that have defaced Pakistani sites. Among them, the most famous one is H2O or the Hindustan Hackers Organization. However, the independent as well as Indian analysts admit that at this cyber-front, Pakistan has always been winning this war. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, Pakistani hackers are organized in groups where as most of the Indian hackers are working as solo. Secondly and the most important reason is the religious motivation of the hackers based in Pakistan, to do something for the cause of Muslim brothers & sisters in Palestine and Kashmir.
If fighting with our neighbours is in our genes, we can fight through the internet, media, newspapers and books but let us not fight with guns and missiles. There may be humiliation if a website is defaced but at least no human life is lost.
INDIAN CYBER ARMY.