Says Ethical Hacker Ankit Fadia in his latest list of warnings. "They need to be responsible In the interest of national security," he reminds
Thanks to the potency and penetration of social networking in the country, it has now become possible for the 'mango man' to connect with actors, directors, singers, models and people who were once far beyond reach.
Karan Johar, Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai and Barack Obama are just some of the biggies who're so busy Tweeting, they're perhaps forgetting the threats involved. The ultimate cyber security expert in the country speaks up on the newest concern on the block: people hacking.
Why are you so apprehensive when it comes to celebs on Twitter?
If you follow them, you'll observe that they disclose details like where they're shooting, their shooting schedule and even the hotel they're staying at. Albeit unintentionally, you're inviting trouble for yourself and those around you, because terrorists are hungry for such information.
Any instances in support?
Singer Britney Spears' account on Twitter is hacked almost once every two months. One of the hackers even claimed to be her public relations officer, and went as far as posting an update that said Britney was dead, complete with the date and venue of her funeral. Politico Shashi Tharoor's account has been hacked several times, too. Even Big B and Aamir Khan have suffered. Once a blog, website or social networking account is hacked, a hacker has full control over it. He can spread rumours, communicate with fellow terrorists and make you a partner in crime.
How would you rate the technical prowess of terrorists?
They're far ahead of us. When I was asked by the US intelligence to decode some scripts after the 9/11 attacks, I was stunned to see the kind of technology they used to communicate. The agencies had tracked some emails where few people were frequently exchanging photographs of Canadian rockstar Avril Lavigne. They had used technography to send messages.
What about 26/11?
For the Mumbai attacks, they had used highly secured Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services like Skype. The data on VOIPs' servers are so huge that by the time you track them, the damage has already been done, and the accused are out of your reach. They had used the 'proxy bouncing' technique, wherein they were sending messages through a Saudi Arabia-based server while sitting in Pakistan.
Why is tracking such messages so difficult?
They know the loopholes, and how to use it effectively. Now, let's suppose three terrorists, A, B and C, want to communicate with each other. What they'll do is, create a Twitter account, and follow only each other, thus forming a closed group. So if A posts a message saying, 'Plant bomb at Parliament at 11 am', only B and C will be able to see it. And since Twitter is based in US, Indian authorities would have control over this exchange. Tracking messages is another problem. I will track a suspicious mail only if it's sent. If A wants to communicate with B, he will type an email and save it as a draft and not send it. Now, B, who has A's password, can log in to A's account, read the mail and delete it. Since the mail wasn't sent, it'd be almost impossible to track it.
How do hackers operate infect social networking?
There're viruses, worms, spyware and malware. One day, you receive a private message from a friend (who is already infected), containing a link to a Youtube video. Halfway through the video, it will prompt you to download some video plug-in. Since the message came from your friend, you trust it, but the moment you click on it, you get infected. 'Get rich' schemes, 'earn money online' scams and various money laundering attacks are the most rampant ways.
Techonography: A technique used to hide texts on pictures in such a way that naked eyes can't read it.
Proxy Bouncing: When someone sitting in Pakistan sends a message from a server in Saudi Arabia, and no one can track it.
Email Spoofing: To hide the source of a message, the senders' and receivers' email list is manipulated.
Hacktivism: When two countries are fighting it out in cyberspace.
Fadia's free fundas
For a guy whose girlfriend has blocked him on chat
Get a makeover and chase someone else.
For a student whose college administration has blocked his favourite websites
Stop watching porn dude! Start your browser, connect to http://www.cooltunnel.com/ and then use it to connect to your favourite blocked websites. Works most of the times!
Tips to stay away from cyber crime
Stop using the Internet! In case you can't, install a firewall, antivirus, antispyware and update them every week. Use a strong password, which is a combination of alphabets, numbers and special characters. Avoid using public computers to bank and shop online.
To hack a neighbour's bank account
I have passed on your details to the cyber cell of the police. You should hear from them soon.
For 19-year-olds who want to hide what they're doing
Use the free encryption tool called Truecrypt.