Hyderabad

Sunny Leone ‘greets’ visitors to GHMC website

In the last 48 hours, along with a number of ruling party leaders and civic officials, a leading Bollywood actress also found place on the Greater Hyderabad Municipal corporation (GHMC) website, albeit in a different avatar. One of the links that appeared on the homepage of the GHMC website directed users to a topless image of Sunny Leone. What was more embarrassing for the corporation was the fact that the page could not be taken down despite being aware of the issue for more than a day.

The image appeared on the page of the Off Site Real Time Monitoring (OSRT) system, a now-defunct initiative introduced in 2011. The system was initially started to inform the citizens regarding sanitation work undertaken by the body, and later, to identify and upload details of illegal building deviations. The idea had also helped GHMC bag an ‘m-governance’ award, besides finding place in at least three research papers.

“This website was previously used to verify sanitation workers attendance and also garbage disposal details of the vehicles,” GHMC Commissioner B. Janardhan Reddy said in the release, while maintaining distance from the content that is now hosted on the website and its current owner. He said that they have discontinued OSRT online services since two years and directed the vigilance officials to look into the matter.

As soon as word spread on social media that GHMC website was “hosting” nude images of Ms. Leone, the corporation removed the link from the code of its homepage but let the link remain on the code of other pages, which continued to redirect users to the offending website.

According to Kiran Chandra of Swetcha, a free software movement organisation, the GHMC did not renew the domain that hosted the OSRT website. After expiry of the GHMC’s ownership, the domain was acquired by another entity, who hosted pornographic content.

A search for OSRT’s registration details revealed that it was purchased in January this year by a Greater Noida resident. There were no details of past ownership by Telangana or AP government, indicating the long delay in renewal. However, a web search for cached ORTS pages revealed that it was a genuine website that was once used by the GHMC and may have hosted relevant content until as late as last October.

“The GHMC must have defaulted on renewal for a year or more. There are organisations on the prowl for expired domains, and they purchase them. Later, they sell them for a premium as the websites carry a social value for previous owners,” Mr. Chandra said.

Cyber security experts point out that the GHMC website is in a bad shape with several severed and defunct links. The link to a porn site is a big security flaw, said cyber security expert Vikas Jain who analysed the code of the porn website at The Hindu ’s behest.

“It appears the porn website has a harmless counter that counts number of visitors, obtains data on visitor web browser and their location,” he said, adding that the GHMC website is not hosted in a secure http server.

“But the porn website’s administrator could have simply injected a malicious code that could make web browsers clandestinely capture information, including passwords of emails, social media accounts, screenshots and even turn on the camera on a computer that visits the link,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 12:14:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/sunny-leone-greets-visitors-to-ghmc-website/article8521698.ece

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