The Delhi Police’s action against Baba Ramdev’s anti corruption campaign appears to have irked one of the most feared online groups of hackers: Last night, Anonymous, a global, anarchic collective of online activists (rather, hacktivists), hacked the website of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) last night, according to reports on The Hacker News. When MediaNama checked the NIC website last night, it was down for maintenance, and the message published by Anonymous had been removed. The message, as reported by THN, stated

.We exist without nationality.. We exist with humanity
.NIC took 3 ins,
.This time we talk to the government – On NIC Homepage and Sub-Domains.
.There is no use securing. There is no use of spending on forensic.
.Get this message clear Mr. Prime Minister and others.
.We do not like to talk much and Yes! IT is our world.
.Expect us.”

Defaced Site : is still under maintenance.

Anonymous announced their plans on Twitter yesterday, and invited participants for its Operation India Against Corruption. Some information on their actions, and the support, is available on their Facebook group, but the plans were hatched on IRC. A public document with the reasons behind their actions, and their demands, is being publicly edited here.

If three minutes is all it took Anonymous, it’s likely that no government website is safe. Remember that the websites for all Indian government departments are typically set up and run by the National Informatics Centre.

Anonymous has particularly come into the limelight over the past few months, after its repeated hacking of Sony’s Playstation Network, in response to Sony’s ‘offensive against free speech and internet freedom’, when it gained access to IP addresses of people who George Hotz’ blog via a lawsuit. Details at Wikipedia.

The Challenge With Anonymous

– Legally: Is one of how to find, and who to book: Anonymous is an anonymous collective. No one, apparently, knows anyone else, and they together hack sites without knowing who is fighting with them. So even if sections related to India’s IT Act of 2008 came into effect, it’s unlikely that NIC will know who to book. It is a leaderless collective.

– Ethically: (and this is a personal opinion) It is difficult for me to figure out where I stand on Anonymous – at one level, I identify with the concept of Internet Freedom and constantly worry about what governments and organizations are doing to try and control access in this space. India’s IT Department appears to be obsessed with the Troika of Paranoia (monitoring, identification and restriction), and are obviously trying to restrict Internet freedom. There is freedom in anonymity that many probably haven’t yet learned to cherish in India. While I agree with Anonymous’ reasons, I somehow cannot find myself supporting its acts of digital violence, whether against Sony or NIC.