Yes, you read it right, Hindustan Times paid for a shoddy piece of journalism. But I do have to give credit to HT for inspiring the title of this post. Source of inspiration for this post and its title comes from a very creative piece of journalism as exemplified by an HT story titled ‘Yahoo! paid for Peerbhoy’s training to hack networks‘
In case you are wondering why should you care about this news and why is this a news anyway? First line of the story brings you upto speed:
“Mohammed Peerbhoy, the alleged media chief of the Indian Mujahideen (IM), has told investigators that an Italian expert taught him hacking.”
Now that you have been briefed, let’s read the second line:
“The 31-year-oldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s employer had apparently sponsored him to learn cyber security skills against hacking from the Internet security expert in Hyderabad two years ago, but Peerbhoy instead used his acquired expertise to hack Wi-Fi networks to send terror emails.”
whoa, whoa, wait a minute is HT suggesting that Yahoo! actually facilitated terror activities in India? Will they also blame the schools where he learned English because terror emails were written in English?
Let’s keep reading:
“Peerbhoy, a former principal software engineer with Yahoo! in Pune, had learnt the Ã¢â‚¬Å“hacking skillsÃ¢â‚¬Â at a six-day course on information security in Hyderabad in May 2007.
The course was organised by Internet security provider E2 Labs and Yahoo! had paid them around Rs 70,000 for PeerbhoyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s training.”
Actually, there is nothing extraordinary in this training, ethical hacking is a training provided to Information Technology experts to identify vulnerbilities in the network that can be exploited by a hacker so that the network and systems can be secured and protected.
“Peerbhoy was attending the course when a blast took place at HyderabadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mecca mosque on May 18. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Peerbhoy visited the blast site at the mosque and got very disturbed and upset to see the damages and deaths,Ã¢â‚¬Â said the investigator.
By then, Peerbhoy was allegedly already a part of the IM, having been Ã¢â‚¬Å“recruited in Pune by an IM spotter as a computer wizardÃ¢â‚¬Â, and would interact directly with the terror groupÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s main controller Riyaz Bhatkal. Ã¢â‚¬Å“After learning hacking skills, Peerbhoy told Bhatkal that he was capable of hacking unsecured wireless networks to send terror emails and the IM utilised his skill after realising the dangers of using cyber cafes,Ã¢â‚¬Â he added.”
Ok so Peerbhoy happened to be in Hyderabad when Mecca Masjid blast happened, since the investigator is confiding in HT reporter that Peerbhoy was already a member of the IM, it is safe to assume that Mecca Masjid blast was not done by IM. Of course, any sane person after seeing the devastation caused by terrorism will get distrubed, but apparently that was not the cause for Peerbhoy turning to terrorism.
More about hacking unsecured wireless networks later.
“Peerbhoy is currently in Mumbai with a Special Cell team. He has been taken there to confirm how he hacked an unsecured Wi-Fi network there (in Chembur) to sent IMÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s email on September 13 before Delhi blasts, according to cellÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s deputy commissioner Alok Kumar.”
So Peerbhoy is identified as the man who sent the terror emails sent minutes before the Delhi blasts, and the investigators want to know he is able to hack into an secured Wi-Fi network to send the email. If you still remember the title of this news story then you got it right, this is the conclusion that yahoo! actually paid money that helped in a crime. But wait, there is more:
“His modus operandi was simple: he, along with arrested accused Mubin Sheikh and Asif Sheikh, would move across Mumbai in a car to detect unsecured Wi-Fi connections to send e-mails.”
ah! so this is how they “hacked.” Any dummy with a wi-fi enabled laptop knows how to do it, I am not sure why anyone will need training to do that, let alone pay Rs. 70k for this.
This is an attempt to create a news story where there is no story exists. Yahoo! should take action to this and register protest with HT for this kind of journalism. Indirectly HT has tried to link Yahoo! to terrorism and in the process made a joke of themselves.
I am not sure what is the process of fact checking in Hindustan Times but talking to their own IT department would have saved them from becoming a laughing stock.
Publication: Hindustan Times
Journalist: Abhishek Sharan
Date: March 9th, 2009.