Numerous WhatsApp messaging centres in Pakistan spreading lies on Kashmir: Former Army Lt General AK Sahni

WION Chennai, Tamil Nadu Oct 02, 2019, 10.31 PM(IST) Written By: Sidharth MP

Image for representation. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Former Army Lt General Arun Kumar Sahni said that 'in the coming time, cyber warriors will be the people in academia, corporate world and not those who are in uniform'. 

Numerous WhatsApp messaging centres, groups in Pakistan are spreading authentic-looking misinformation on Kashmir but we must only forward what is authentic and factual, said former Army Lt General Arun Kumar Sahni.

Sahni was speaking while addressing a gathering of engineering college students at a cybersecurity awareness campaign in Chennai. “As our agencies continuously block these groups and pages, others crop up to spread this fake propaganda”, he said. 

Addressing over 1,400 students of the Sairam Engineering College, the former commander-in-chief of Indian Army said, "in the coming time, cyber warriors will be the people in academia, corporate world and not those who are in uniform". 

"We live in a cyber era where a phishing attack can succeed in less than 4 minutes and 85 per cent of the breaches happen due to ten well-known vulnerabilities. In perception battles that are fought today, public opinion can be shaped without physical contact between forces,” Sahni said.

He highlighted the fact that it could take up to 100 days for developed countries to detect a system breach whereas it would take developing countries over a year for the same. Sahni emphasized on the need for the government to formulate more specific rules, regulation and legal provisions for the cyber domain. “We must be careful of the footprints we leave behind and ensure that they are not used against us,” he told students. 

Speaking at the event, cyber-security expert Rakshit Tandon cited the importance of Sections 66, 67 of the IT Act and urged the students to understand what constitutes cybercrime. 

“In the year 2016, over 5,000 people were arrested for cybercrime of which 3,000 were college students and 98 were school children. Child pornography, hacking, online trafficking, online financial frauds, among others include cyber offences that are punishable in India,” Tandon said. 

He cited a recent case wherein a woman was duped, 1.5 lakh Rs siphoned off her bank account within minutes after she called a number that appeared to be of Google Pay customer service. “She was instructed by the criminal to install the Anydesk application for better assistance. Then the hacker activated the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and transferred all the money in less than 30 seconds. Apps such as Anydesk and Teamviewer can be used by hackers to take control of the computers or phones of unassuming users. These days hackers target phones due to the allure of digital wallets, they can also read our SMS by taking control of applications that have permission to read messages,” Tandon shared.

Cybersecurity author Nipun Jaswal demonstrated how a micro-controller placed in a USB fan or an interface device can be used as a keyboard to hack a computer, irrespective of its operating system. “There is a perception that a particular brand and their operating system is more secure but using certain methods it takes only a few seconds to break into a system, with or without anti-virus software. There are only two kinds of people - the ones who know they are hacked and the ones who don’t know they are hacked,” Jaswal noted. 

The speakers also briefed the students on precautions such as two-factor authentication, regulating the permissions for all applications, use of Yubikey et cetera. They also informed the students about government platforms such as Cyberdost, cybercrime.gov where one could get tips to stay safer in the online world and post complaints whenever the need arises.