PMO denies computer hacking report

January 15th, 2010 - 12:19 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Thursday denied a media report that its computers had been hacked or those in other central government departments.
Asked about a Headlines Today TV channel report that “hackers from China have targeted computers in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)”, an official in the PMO denied the report.

“Attempts have always been there to hack our computers, but we have our security systems in place,” PMO media adviser Harish Khare told IANS.

“There has been no breach on our security system, we are absolutely safe,” Khare said.

According to Headlines Today, the “sinister attempt was made around Dec 15 last year” and “investigators are still coming to terms with the depth of the damage”.

It said the hackers had aimed at the “cream of India’s national security set-up: National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar, PM’s Special Envoy Shyam Saran and Deputy National Security Advisor Shekhar Dutt. The four and up to 26 others were squarely in the crosshairs of the hacking attempt”.

It quoted “top sources” as saying that “investigators are trying hard to find out who these hackers were and whether this was a devious espionage attempt by the Chinese government itself”.

The TV channel report also quoted “a top PMO official, whose e-mail account was cracked by the Chinese hackers, confirmed the espionage bid”, as saying: “These kind of hacking attempts are made. To think they are not made is wrong. The internet or intranet is not used for official purposes.”

Headlines Today said that investigators were “disturbed” that the Chinese hackers quite likely had inside help. “The possibility of a mole within the Indian establishment helping a foreign adversary is staring investigators in the face.”

“The hacking spyware itself was embedded in a PDF document. And the Trojan Horse was programmed to carry out an array of functions, including downloading files, accessing emails and passwords and also accessing the desktop from a remote location,” it said.

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