February 24, 2024

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Hackers target over 1,000 Indian websites as part of malicious Independence Day campaign

Cybersecurity researchers disclosed on Friday that a group of hackers had aimed their sights at more than 1,000 Indian websites as part of a campaign aligned with Independence Day, tagged as OpIndia. The orchestrated effort involved hacktivist collectives from diverse nations and employed a variety of techniques, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, defacement assaults, and takeovers of user accounts, as detailed by the CloudSEK team.

Motivated by political and religious motives, the hacktivist initiative on Independence Day targeted websites lacking robust security measures and robust digital infrastructure. These vulnerable sites spanned sectors such as government, education, BFSI (banking, financial services, and insurance), and small-scale enterprises.

The DDoS attacks disproportionately affected the government and BFSI sectors, while education and small businesses endured widespread defacement attacks and instances of access panel takeovers, as highlighted in the report.

“Despite their current limitations, these groups could become a significant threat to countries in the near future. The rise in collaboration and easy access to attack tools and data, combined with potential support from state-sponsored hackers, might amplify their impact,” said Abhinav Pandey, cyber threat researcher, CloudSEK

CloudSEK, the cybersecurity company, conveyed the information about the hacktivist targets to all the affected organisations and firms.

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Despite claims of DDoS attacks and user account takeovers, CloudSEK’s research suggests that these assertions were potentially exaggerated for attention and recognition, particularly by hacktivist groups hailing from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other nations.

In response to the cyberattacks on Indian digital infrastructure, Indian factions adopted similar strategies, directing their focus towards websites affiliated with the air force, military, army, and national revenue board of Bangladesh, in addition to a range of ministries and governmental entities in Pakistan.

The cybersecurity agency also disclosed a significant upsurge in hacktivist attacks during the initial quarter of 2023. Notably, India emerged as the primary target, followed closely by Israel, Poland, Australia, and Pakistan.

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