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Saturday, January 25, 2014

‘Biggest’ global hacking network busted, Pune man held

New Delhi: In an FBI-aided operation, security agencies in India, China and Romania on Friday conducted simultaneous raids to unearth what is being termed as the biggest international hacking network, possibly involving corporates, associations and powerful individuals. 

    In India, the CBI conducted raids at four places including Mumbai, Pune and Ghaziabad and arrested the alleged mastermind in India—31-yearold Amit Vikram Tiwari, son of a former army colonel, sources said. 
    The scandal could have a link with the Indian Premier League. According to highly placed sources, people connected to IPL had approached the Punebased Tiwari for hacking into some accounts. But due to a dispute over pay
ment, the work was not completed. 
    The CBI is investigating the IPL connection. Officials refused to divulge details but hinted that some people associated with the tournament wanted high-level hacking done. 
    Primary investigations reveal corporations and individuals had been approaching the hackers with assignments ranging from marriage disputes to corporate rivalry. These jobs involved 
hacking into emails, financial records and other sensitive information of individuals and organizations. 
    Officials say 900 email accounts were hacked between 2011 and 2013 by global hackers including Tiwari, 171 accounts belonged to Indians. Tiwari, who is suspected to be the main hacker in India, was in touch with people abroad. 
Email passwords for $250-500 
New Delhi: The CBI has helped bust a global hacking network based on FBI inputs. Sources said the master-hackers could be based out of the country. It's learned that most clients who approached Amit Tiwari for hacking into email accounts and websites were foreigners. 
    "It has been alleged that a number of internet websites advertised that the operators could get access to email accounts in exchange for a fee varying from $250 to $500. On getting the payment, these operators shared email password with customers," said CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad. 

    The CBI has booked Tiwari and unknown hackers for criminal conspiracy, theft of information and Section 66 of Information Technology Act. A special court in Pune has put Tiwari in transit remand till January 27 to enable the CBI to produce him at a Delhi court to seek his police custody, special public prosecutor Vivek Saxena said. 
    The CBI, in coordination with the FBI, is probing the national security implications of the scandal. It wants to find out if government records were hacked into. Financial fraud is another angle the CBI is probing. 
    Sources say that payments were being received by hackers 
through Western Union money transfer and web-payment portal paypal.com
    There's speculation on why the FBI has been tracking the case. It is suspected that the agency came into the picture after accounts related to the US government or big US corporates were hacked after. The FBI could have tracked the hosting sites to India, China and Romania. In India, Tiwari and his fellow hackers were using two primary websites, one of which was in Pune. 
    CBI director Ranjit Sinha said the agency had registered two FIRs against suspected operators of hacking websites. "The operation is a product of an interna
tional investigation coordinated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Combating Organized Crime (DCCO) of Romania, CBI and the Ministry of Public Security of China. Raids in the three countries were carried out simultaneously," said Sinha. 
    The FBI officials had been reportedly holding regular meetings with CBI in New Delhi over past few months and a preliminary enquiry in the case was registered last month. It was decided that coordinated raids would be conducted in the three countries. 


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