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Hackers Claim Indian Government Targeted U.S. Counterparts

The "Lords of Dharmaraja", the same group of hackers who claimed to have compromised systems maintained by India’s Military Intelligence, leading to threats of exposing Symantec source code and details surrounding intercept operations that leveraged backdoors provided to them by the likes of Apple, Nokia, and RIM, have made the headlines once again. This time, they claim that India’s government has been hacking U.S. interests.

According to a story from Anthony Freed on InfoSec Island, the group is claiming that India’s military targeted the U.S. government, in addition to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), as exposed last week when word of the RINOA program came to light.

India Backdoor SystemFreed said the group provided InfoSec Island with “potentially damning evidence that the Indian government is actively engaged in espionage efforts targeting not only the USCC, but potentially thousands of US government networks, ranging from those of federal agencies to systems used by state and municipal entities.”

“The data included sixty-eight sets of usernames and passwords for compromised US government network accounts which were said to have been acquired by hacking multiple servers belonging to India’s Ministry of External affairs (mea.gov.in) and the National Informatics Centre (nic.in), amongst others.”

Citing the need to protect the best interests of federal, state, and local municipalities and their constituents, InfoSec Island would not offer any additional information. In addition, all of the information given to them by their source was turned over to authorities, and they delayed the publication of their story as well.

At SecurityWeek, we reached out to Mr. Freed to see if he will offer a list of agency names at the least. We also asked if the government requested his silence and information themselves.

In a statement he told SecurityWeek, “We cannot discuss anything beyond what we have already published at this time.”

According to the group, the reasoning for their actions is simply to undermine the Indian government.

“…my team is pro U.S., we fight for rights in our country we are not intentionally harm U.S. companies (sometimes we do hack into since our botnet is worldwide) but we do not steal credit cards and make money of it and we do not do banks etc. Our mission - exposure of the corruption,” one of the members told InfoSec Island.

On Monday, SecurityWeek reported on the memo purported to be leaked by the Lords of Dharmaraja, outlining the intercept program known as RINOA, which earns its name from the vendors involved - RIM, Nokia, and Apple. The memo said the vendors provided India with backdoors into their technology in order to them to maintain a presence in the local market space.

These backdoors allowed the military to conduct surveillance (RINOA SUR) against the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC). Personnel from Indian Naval Military Intelligence were dispatched to the People’s Republic of China to undertake Telecommunications Surveillance (TESUR) using the RINOA backdoors and CYCADA-based technologies.

The memo also included proof of the intercept operation, by quoting transcripts captured by the naval staff. Overall, India’s Military Intelligence was pleased with the RINOA SUR platform.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.