Tamil Nadu police website hacked by cyber criminals

Hackers operating from abroad demanded $20,000 to restore the site

September 12, 2023 12:48 am | Updated 12:48 am IST - CHENNAI

The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) website of the Tamil Nadu police was allegedly hacked by suspects operating from South Korea.

While the hackers demanded $20,000 to restore the site, the State police alerted the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT) to take down the links and secure the data. The incident reported on Saturday has affected a variety of e-services offered by the Tamil Nadu police, police sources said.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the suspects managed to hack the website after identifying two logins with weak passwords.

While the e-services have no data, the Face Recognition System (FRS) has information on known criminals and habitual offenders. The police in the field checked the identities of suspects by uploading their photographs to a mobile application that would look for similarities in the FRS database and send an alert.

“The e-services option gives access to First Information Reports, the status of the investigation, road accident particulars, and other details. One can also lodge a complaint and avail oneself of a host of other free and paid police services. But those options are One-Time Password (OTP) enabled, and hence, it would not be easy to access,” a senior police officer told The Hindu on Monday.

Confirming that two logins with weak passwords were targeted to hack the CCTNS, he said a detailed investigation had been ordered into the incident. “We have almost restored the e-services; the FRS link will be available soon. There is a backup for data...a vulnerability analysis will be done to check if there is any theft of information,” he said. He said that access to the police website and its services would soon be strengthened with a two-step verification process. Damage control was done due to the timely alert issued to ELCOT and other agencies, an official, who did not want to be quoted, said. Senior police officers said efforts were on to track the cyber criminals operating from abroad. The system also had information relating to the salaries of the 1.25 lakh-odd police force in the State. The CCTNS was developed by a leading software firm and maintained by the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB).

The website was partly restored late on Monday night, sources added.

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