In July, an Islamic terrorist group sent e-mail messages claiming responsibility for bombings in Indian cities before the acts took place. The messages were sent by hacking into unsecured wireless networks and one suspect in the case has been identified as software engineer, Mohammed Asghar Mansoor Peerbhoy, who is a Yahoo employee.
Peerbhoy allegedly made several work related trips to the U.S., while employed by Yahoo. It is alleged that he, along with two other Indian software engineers, were part of a media terror cell. One of the engineers has been identified as Atiq Iqbal and Mobin Kader Chaikh and Asif Basrudding Shaikh have been named as the techie connections in the case. One worked for an IT firm and the other was a qualified mechanical engineer. Fifteen people have been arrested in the case thus far.
One of the emails which the hackers sent can be viewed on deshgujarat.com.
The Times of India alleged that Peerbhoy admitted in an interrogation to attending a hacking course, where two foreigners were present. This was an ethical hacking course designed for training internet security workers. Ethical hacking courses are offered all over the place and given that India is part of the global economy, the tie between foreigners and terrorist activity is questionable.
The Indian authorities are stating that the wireless networks were hacked using a fairly well-known technique often referred to as wardriving. Once they secured an unsecured network (pardon the pun), they programmed the e-mails to be sent shortly before the blasts, according to the authorities.
Wardriving is a pretty simple hacking method where someone drives around until they find an unsecured signal. Most wireless cards have the capability of sniffing out available networks. Once an unsecured network is found – getting on it normally only requires the click of a mouse. Teen age hackers are known to engage in this activity for fun. In most cases, any wireless network can be made "hacker proof" by simply password protecting by using the instructions you get when you buy the router. Wardriving has recently been made a felony in the United States.
This story illustrates that you don't have to be very sophisticated to commit crime or terrorism with a computer. Quite often, pretty simple techniques can equate to devastating results. Much more sophisticated do-it-yourself hacking kits, which sometimes come with technical support, are easily obtained on the Internet black market. Saying that, the end result in this case is tragic.
India has suffered a rash of bombings in recent history. The specific terrorist group behind the incidents in question is known as the Indian Mujahideen, known locally as the IM. It is believed to be affiliated with another Indian terrorist group known as Student Islamic Group of India (SIMI). The Indian government suspects SIMI has been penetrated by Al Qaeda.
Initial arrests in this case were made when Indian authorities tracked down suspects in the case after discovering cell phone numbers the group used and investigating them.