Government websites are turning out to be soft targets for hackers. In the last three months alone, as many as 112 websites, including that of the Planning Commission, the Finance Ministry and various State government agencies, were hacked or defaced.
“During the period December 2011 to February 2012, a total number of 112 government websites were hacked,” Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
While the website of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd was hacked on December 4, 2011 by the ‘H4tr!ck' hacker group, the websites of Finance, Health, Human Resource Development ministries and Planning Commission were also defaced. Various State government websites that came under attack were from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Mr. Pilot said the Department of Information Technology and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) that host the majority of government websites were upgrading their skills to tackle the ever-growing threat from hackers. Firewalls were being upgraded and new filters added to ensure that hackers could not target government websites.
Notably, the government had to face major embarrassment last year after the Central Bureau of Investigation website was hacked and defaced by programmers, who identified themselves as the “Pakistani Cyber Army.” It took weeks before the website was restored. However, it was after this episode that the NIC took various measures to prevent government websites from getting hacked. As per industry estimates, over 14,000 government and corporate websites were hacked/defaced in 2011.