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India Hackers Scared Straight?
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2001 04:50:50 -0500 (CDT)


By Manu Joseph 
2:00 a.m. July 27, 2001 PDT  

MUMBAI, India -- Indian hackers always thought they were too
sophisticated to fall into the hands of the rough cops in this
country, whom various human rights groups routinely accuse of

But that feeling evaporated after one of the four people arrested
recently in connection with a hacking incident accused Mumbai police
of breaking his hand during interrogation.

While the charge hasn't been substantiated, hackers in Mumbai admitted
to being petrified. And the police, while denying the incident, don't
sound too apologetic.

"Let hackers know that some tough people are out here," said Senior
Inspector I.M. Zahid, an investigator in the hacking case. "I killed
naxalities (terrorists) in Andhra Pradesh (South India) before being
reassigned in Mumbai. I am not saying that I was merciless with the
hackers, but my point is that we cops have seen such tough situations
that we know how to handle boys."

It all started when 23-year old Anand Khare, who calls himself Dr.
Neukar, gained control over ccicmumbai.com, the site of Mumbai cops'
Cyber Crime Cell, or CCC. He pasted abuses and challenged them to
catch him.

They did.

Three others were arrested and charged with helping Khare. One of
them, Mahesh Mhatre, said an officer broke his hand during the
interrogation. He also accused the police of torturing him.

Mhatre owns the cyber cafe from where Khare executed the hack. "I have
approached the State Human Rights Commission asking them to look into
the matter," said Mhatre's father, Subash. "I am waiting for their

The deputy commissioner of police, Manoj Lohiya, denied the
allegation. "It's not our job to get personal," said Lohiya, who is
also chief of the CCC.

Mhatre's hospital report confired that there were no bone injuries.
But according to a highly placed CCC official who took part in the
interrogation, the men were "slapped around." He said calling it
"torture" was exaggerated.

But with a report that the State Human Rights Commission was
investigating the death of a man who died in police custody still
fresh in their minds, the hackers are scared.

"Some of my students are good hackers who love detecting flaws in
Internet security," said Vijay Mukhi, a member of the CCC advisory
committee and a highly reputed software tutor who offered his
technical assistance to the cops as they pursued Neukar. "I have
gotten calls from at least six of them asking me if they could join
the CCC as technical hands. They want to be on the official side of
Internet security now because they are scared."

Darthvader, a self proclaimed "hacker with no malice," said that the
punishment should fit the crime. "A slap on the wrist is
understandable. But if a programmer is treated as a criminal then it
leaves an unpleasant taste."

Another hacker calling himself Prince said that even the rumor of
heavy-handed police tactics has been enough to send hackers diving for
cover. "Indian hackers dont have a strong united community, so its
difficult to tell if there is a drop in activity," he said. "But the
hackers I know are lying low. No body wants to mess again."

L-20 blamed Khare for messing with law enforcement.

"That guy was not even a hacker. He just used hacking tools and has
given all of us a bad name," L-20 said. "Suddenly a cerebral activity
has become a high-risk pastime."

Fear can be good, according to Flynn Remedios, a Web security
consultant for CCC who took part in interrogating Dr. Neukar. "Though
it was not intentional, if Mhatres allegation of police brutality
scares away hackers, I would say its good."

The message appears to be sinking in. Bertram DSouza, for one, a
21-year-old engineering student and "Web security enthusiast," plans
on taking the high road. "I am joining CCC to help out the cops in
detecting hackers. That seems to me both safe and exciting."


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