The website of the miniscule State Water Transport Department (SWTD) appears to be gaining a favourite spot on the list of to-be targeted sites of hackers, with the site being hacked for the second time here.
The site, the domain of which was first created in January 2009, could not see daylight then after a hacker played mischief, albeit “on a minor scale with only one page being defaced”, according to officials.
A comeback took two years, with the department caught in the throes of standing on its feet.
In 2011, with the Alappuzha-based SWTD realizing that it had long stayed away from the web and was hence losing out on deserved attention from foreign tourists, director Shaji V. Nair took the lead and fresh life was injected into the website. Re-launched in November last, the site, designed, developed and maintained by the National Informatics Centre, had caught the tourist’s eye with quite a few interesting links, including the ‘Places Enroute’ link that gave a description of each and every trip of the department, along with timings.
Officials say the site was slowly but steadily gathering popularity with “thousands of hits” and enquiries from foreign tourists, when suddenly on January 15, hackers struck again. The department was asked to pull off the site, which was “defaced in a major way”.
While officials here say investigating Cyber Crime sleuths expressed doubts of an Iranian or Pakistani hacker behind the incident, officials from the State’s Computer Emergency Response Team-Kerala (Cert-K) told The Hindu that the web server log of the last one month was still under analysis and that the hacker’s Internet Protocol (IP) address was yet to be traced.
Refusing to divulge whether it was the same person who had earlier hacked the site, officials said the nationality of the hacker could not be confirmed at this time. Internet searches indicated that zone-h, a website that runs a mirror of all such targeted sites, was notified by ‘KhantastiC’, a hacker with alleged Pakistan roots, on the SWTD site being hacked. The same hacker was reportedly behind the defacing of major Government sites including that of BSNL last year.
However, with the zone-h site being disabled in India at present, this could not be verified further.
“We have written to the Director-General of Police as well, and are hopeful of getting the site back online very soon. The NIC, the State Data Centre and Cert-K are working on the issue at the same time,” was how Mr. Nair responded.
Fact remains that with the website being offline, the SWTD is walking on a tightrope with several of its ambitious projects, most of them aimed at international tourists, being launched shortly.