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Bangladesh-India cyber war rages on

Earlier this year a herd of Bangladeshi cows crossed territorial lines into India where they were brutally tortured by the guards. In Dhaka, Bangladeshi authorities issued the usual statement of protest to little effect. However, a group of young civilians has decided to take matters into their own hands, launching what they called a “cyber war” against Indian business.

Young hackers affiliated with both the “Black Hat” group and “Bangladesh Cyber Army” have begun attacks on Indian commercial web sites. These hacker groups claim to have hit targets critical to the continuation of Indian commerce. Some of these sites include stock exchanges.

In keeping with the combative language of the hacker community groups, “Indishell” and “India Cyber Army” launched a retaliatory strike on Bangladeshi web sites.

The attacks of Bangladeshi hackers, who are claiming the complete attainment of all objectives, have followed a popular form similar to that employed by “hacktavist” group Anonymous. The hackers have typically defaced web sites, replacing their content with Bangladeshi flags and images of people tortured by Indian border guards.

While the hackers have made big claims about the success of their operation, sources in India are suggesting that those claims are over-blown. Last Thursday, The Globe and Mail interviewed the head of one of the largest internet security firms in India.

Head of “Seigcraft” Sahir Hidayatullah was quoted last week dismissing Bangladeshi tactics as an example of “Spray N’ Pray” hacking. This type of hacking, he suggested, is not a threat to companies with sophisticated security solutions but instead hits large numbers of small and poorly protected web sites.

Industry leaders have suggested that these attacks have mainly affected small businesses. According to sources, counterattacks by the India Cyber Army have hit the websites of five Bangladeshi ministries.

It appears that governments are the targets for political hacker movements. Industry commentators in India have suggested that the government has been slower to invest in internet security than the private sector. Thus, while governments represent a high value to hackers, they are far more vulnerable than potential target-corporations.

Cyber-attacks of a nationalist or political character, often carried out by civilians, are gaining popularity and have been exchanged by adversaries on the world stage. Countries that have traded electronic blows include North and South Korea, as well as Israel and Palestine.

The Anonymous group became known for similar politically-driven hackings in 2010, when they shut down the websites of several prominent credit card companies in response to the companies’ boycott of Wikileaks.

While Anonymous lacks the fierce nationalism displayed by these groups, its intensely public character has put it in the limelight of the hacking world and has served as inspiration for new additions to the hacking community.

There are few indications that the cyber war has had an effect on the national politics of either belligerent.