Hackers Release NSA Malware, Indian Servers in the Firing Line

A group of hackers, known as the Shadow Brokers, just released essential hacking tools designed by the United States’ NSA( National Security Agency) that were used to monitor or spy on foreign servers. The Shadow Brokers offered a password, giving free access to files it had previously tried to auction off.

The hacker group first came into the limelight last August, when they leaked exploits linked to the NSA and the Equation Group.

Due to the auction not receiving much interest, the group has leaked the information online, stating it to be a form of protest against US President Donald Trump for going back on his campaign promises.

How Serious Is the Hack?

Although, there are no reports of data theft of any kind, analysts have said that these hacks represent tools designed to help malware evade detection, with specialisation in stealthy long-term attacks. That means that the malware doesn’t result in any immediate harm or threat, rather it stays in the system concealed and makes it vulnerable to an attack that can be carried out later.

Some of the tools could also prevent cyber defenders with high-end security modules, like an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) or a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system from finding out whether their machine has been breached.

How the Hack Affects India?

The hack has revealed a huge list of compromised servers across the world, including a considerable number of Indian servers like BHU, IAS Bangalore, IITM and several BSNL/VSNL.

Although, this does not imply that there are any current threats looming over the concerned servers, it is a huge cause of worry for them and their user base.

BSNL’s ‘sancharnet.in’ on the list of compromised servers (Image Source: gist.github.com)
IAS’s ‘ias.ac.in’ on the list of compromised servers ( Image Source: gist.github.com)

How Vulnerable Is India to Cyber Attacks?

It’s no surprise that names of Indian servers have landed on the infamous list revealed by the hackers. According to a research by Kaspersky back in 2016, India ranks fourth in the list of hacked servers after Brazil, China and Russia.

The reason for India being so vulnerable is the absence of any stringent cyber laws, as well as the huge population of the country.

According to a report by IAMAI-IMRB, India has close to 60% of internet penetration, where the number of internet users in India is set to reach 450-465 million in June 2017. Of these 77% of urban users and 92% of rural users consider mobile as the primary device for accessing the Internet, all thanks to the availability and affordability of smartphones.

What Now?

India can no longer afford to sleep over the matter of cyber security. The fact that BSNL is also on the list of compromised servers tells us how vulnerable Indian servers are.

Pavan Duggal, Cyber Law Expert, Advocate Supreme CourtThere is a desperate need for strict cyber security laws in India. If we don’t act now, India very well could be prey to malicious cyber attacks in the future

This recent revelation by hackers should act as a wake up call for the Indian cyber division to bolster security in the Indian cyber space. Since the number of internet users in India is huge, the process of formulating cyber security laws should speed up.