LEGION: A Garrison of the Truthful or a Cohort of Conspiracy?

LEGION: A Garrison of the Truthful or a Cohort of Conspiracy?

The state of cyber-security in India has once again been put to question by the recent spate of hacking by hacker group ‘Legion’

The Twitter accounts of various Indian big-wigs like INC president Rahul Gandhi, disgraced liquor baron Vijay Mallya and NDTV reporters Ravish Kumar and Barkha Dutt were reportedly hacked into earlier this month by a group of hackers that identify themselves as ‘Legion’.
This came to fore thanks to several offensive and mischievous tweets from the official accounts of the victims of these hacks.Office of RaGa

Earlier this month, Legion posted Vijay Mallya’s address, phone numbers and confidential passwords of his various email accounts online. Prior to that, Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter account was hacked and a slew of offensive messages were tweeted. Twitter accounts of prominent journalists Ravish Kumar and Barkha Dutt were also hacked. In the case of Dutt, they released a “partial” dump of her emails, 1.2 GB in size. When they breached Gandhi’s Twitter account, they threatened to release data on Congress as well. These hackers even left behind their email ID, legion_group@sigaint.org, encouraging other hackers to join their ranks. Ironically, Sigaint is an email server claiming to provide secure email service to journalists and the like.rahul-gandhi-twitter-hacked

As these events became news, more curiosity was generated regarding the identity of the group and the motive behind the hacks. According to the Delhi police’s cyber-crime cell, they are a group of hackers based out of five countries – the United States, Canada, Thailand, Sweden and Romania. There were some who tried to connect the dots between this group and the infamous hacker’s group from the mid 1980s known as the Legion of Doom(LoD). LoD too, targeted rich and famous people’s email accounts. But, since LoD has been inactive since 2000s, there does not seem to be any connection between the two groups.

On Monday, in separate interviews to The Washington Post and FactorDaily.com, members of Legion finally broke silence about their motives and dispelled rumors doing the rounds on the internet. The interviews took placeRavish Kumar on Twitter through encrypted chat servers, as requested by the group. The group claimed that it had no political motives and said that they were just a “group of computer geeks who were addicted to crime and drugz.” While the member speaking to Washington post said that he was “sitting somewhere in India”, the member being interviewed by Factor-Daily said that he was based somewhere in Eastern Europe. Asked about their motives, the group said that their aim was to “expose people that pop up” and to put as much classified  information as possible, on the internet, claiming that they had access to over forty thousand servers in India. The group also claimed to have access  to the servers of an entire email provider with a large number of corporate clients and said that they might release an email dump of the provider. The group said that their next target will be the email account of ex-IPL chairperson, Lalit Modi. They also claimed that they were planning a dump of sansad.nic.in emails, which is the email service used by almost all government employees in India, saying ” It includes a lot of _BIG FISH_”.

screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-1-11-48-amLegion hackers operate through email servers and browsers that are shielded against surveillance . They are said to use a browser called The Onion Router (TOR), which provides anonymity and allows users to communicate directly with one another. This is also called the darknet, a platform often used by activists and journalists seeking to avoid a surveillance dragnet.

Legion members think of themselves as cyber vigilantes, working to expose the powerful and corrupt. Having left the Indian anti-cybercrime agencies perplexed, they are showing no signs of slowing down. As of now, the police and cyber-crime cell have no information regarding the true rahul Gandhiidentity of these hackers and how they managed to break into the accounts of such important people. This hacker group is sure to claim the scalps of more prominent Indian personalities before this saga ends.

Whether the members of Legion are defenders of truth or simply a bunch of cyber terrorists, it remains to be seen. With Congress claiming that BJP supporters are behind the hacking, this saga is sure to drag on. The information they have leaked till now is of little use and doesn’t serve to implicate the targeted people in any way. But this does spell trouble for corporate houses in India. This incident raises serious questions about the state of cyber-security in the country, with the hackers claiming that even the banking network of the country can be hacked into. In recent years, hacking of twitter accounts has become a common occurrence, and the fault is usually from the side of the account holder. But if hackers claim to have access to entire servers of email providers, that is a much more serious breach of security and cannot be taken lightly. There is no issue that has risen so quickly and aroused so much distrust of the indispensable cyber realm. Cyber-security is new. Its complexity is not adequately understood, and many do not have the technical capacity to protect themselves in the cyber realm.Legion

While not all hackers have evil intentions, Legion having claimed that they don’t intend to break into the banking network, some do use their skills to steal money and cause undue harm. A very small fraction of the general public truly understands the need for proper cyber-security in today’s cyber realm. If hackers are to be believed, more than 90% of websites can be hacked with the correct skill set. Richard Clarke, the former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism for the United States, once said, “If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, you will be hacked. What’s more, you deserve to be hacked.” To prevent such cyber attacks in the future, it is imperative that people adopt proper cyber-security measures and corporate upgrade their security systems. If this is not done, we will be living in a world where hackers have access to all our personal data and can exploit it any way they like.

-Shubh
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