27 July, 2021

What The Hack!

Our crucial computer systems are eminently breachable

What The Hack!

In February 2014, a bunch of twentysomething cyber security researchers, slouched at their work stations in a decrepit highrise in central Delhi, were tapping away in the dead of the winter night. Their computer screens were aglow, the digits were dancing and the smell of warm pizza was in the air. Suddenly, one of the young men let out a loud war whoop, says an eyewitness. The hacker had cracked open the WiFi router at B-28, South Block, the office of the chief of naval staff on Raisina Hill, a stone’s throw from Parliament and Rashtrapati Bhavan. And, worse, also found that somebody a continent or two away was also looking at what he was.

In the Dilton Doiley world of computer geeks, it was a breakthrough moment, no question.

For over three weeks, the researchers had slogged 15 hours a day to break into the internet protocol (IP) addresses of the bold-faced names of Lutyens’ Delhi, to show how vulnerable their WiFi routers were—and every computer connected to them. At the end of Operation Sarkar as they informally called it, the...

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