Posted on November 8, 2022 at 1:14 PM
Indian hackers eavesdropped on the private conversations of Pakistani politicians and generals
A hacking group based in India has launched attacks targeting Pakistani politicians, diplomats, and military officials. The hacking group eavesdropped on the private conversations of top government officials on behalf of Indian secret services.
Indian hackers eavesdrop on private conversations
An investigation conducted by a media outlet based in the UK and reported by the Sunday Times has exposed the operations of illegal online hackers in India. These hackers targeted the email addresses of hundreds of top government and private individuals in different countries, including Pakistan.
According to the report, the list of the targeted individuals includes politicians, diplomats, and generals in Pakistan. Moreover, the hackers also gained control of the computers owned by these individuals. After gaining control, the hackers proceeded to eavesdrop on private conversations at the “behest of the Indian secret services.”
Some of the people that were targeted by this campaign include Mark Fullbrook, the chief of staff of former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, the former UK Chancellor Philip Hammond, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, German billionaire Stefan Quandt, BBC political editor Michel Platini, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Fawad Chaudhry, and more.
Undercover reporters reach out to hackers
The report by the Sunday Times said that undercover reporters belonging to the publication toured India earlier this year. At the time, the reporters disguised themselves as former MI6 agents that had since become corporate investigators. The journalists claimed to work for a fake investigation firm, Beaufort Intelligence, based in Mayfair, London.
The Times has also added that it has reached out to some of the leading online hackers in India. The hackers said that they needed access to private information targeting their clients. Afterward, the hackers started receiving offers from people needing help. The reports organized a meeting with these hackers where they filmed their conversations privately.
One of the hackers that talked with the undercover reporters was identified in the report as Utkarsh Bhargava. Bhargava admitted that he has been conducting hacks on behalf of the Indian government. The hacker said that he had infiltrated the computer systems of ministries based in different countries.
Some of the countries that Bhargava said that the hackers had been paid to target include Canada, Cambodia, Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkey. The hacker also told the reporters that their work was to collect the data and send it over to the secret service.
Bhargava has also said that the Indian police could not understand these circumstances and would not prosecute the illegal hackers. He has also added that he deployed the Pegasus software to conduct their attacks. The Pegasus software was once at the center of a global snooping case.
The software can be installed on mobile devices without the user’s knowledge. Once the malware has been installed, it gains control of some leading messaging platforms, such as Signal, Telegram, and WhatsApp.
The reporters have also met with a former Brigadier of the Indian Army, Ram Chhillar. Chhillar is the one that founded Phronesis, a cyber-intelligence company. The brigadier said that he could mine the dark web for the stolen personal data of different people. This data was stolen through cyber-attacks or corporate data breaches.
The report also explained the model used by the hackers to conduct their activities. It mentioned that the hackers would reach out to their targets on social media and send them a malicious link. If the targeted people followed the link, it installed malware into their systems, which later gave the hacker access to the email accounts of the targeted individuals.
The Sunday Times report has also added that its reporters held a meeting with several hackers based in an office in Gurugram. The office was known as WhiteInt, and it was operated by Aditya Jain.
Jain is also a hacker. However, he also holds a regular job at Deloitte. Jain said he could hack into any email account globally within one month. The investigations by the researchers allowed them to gain access to the database used by Jain.
The other hacker involved in the activities of this group is Tej Singh Rathore. Rathore is a 28-year-old graduate of Rajasthan Technical University in Kota. He gave a detailed account to the reporters on how he accessed passwords through phishing campaigns. He also added that 9% of private investigators deployed Indian hackers to conduct such campaigns.