Cyber Crime I – 'Busting An e-Ticket Racket'

Conferred Cyber Cop of the Year (2012) Award by NASSCOM, India’s premier body for promotion of information technology, Dr Triveni Singh has cracked several high profile cyber crimes. A PhD on the subject under his belt, Singh believes the future of crimes lies in a mesh of wires and connected keyboards. He discloses solving one such case:   Very early in my career, I realised that policing cannot be limited to standing on the street holding a baton or a rifle. I knew that change was near, and that nature of crime was going to be transformed with changing technology. Without any official backing, I started to read about cyber crimes. I then pursued professional courses on the subject and today I am a PhD holder. I was also conferred with the Cyber Cop of the Year (2012) award by Data Security Council of India (DSCI) NASSCOM. Over the past few years, my interest in cyber crime and financial fraud has brought me many digital crime assignments from central agencies and other government bodies. Recently, I busted a gang of software sellers, who helped railway touts book train tickets within a fraction of seconds. Booking train tickets on the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website generally takes several minutes, even with high-speed Internet connections. Tracking this multi-crore, pan-India racket was a tough job. The software they used bypassed all the security norms put in place by the Central government website. The agents would merely fill in the details of the passengers and the required train, along with the mode of payment and voila… the tickets were booked. An in-depth analysis of the software showed that it provided proxy IP addresses; bypassed IRCTC captcha and bank OTP; allowed forms autofill; and logins with multiple IDs. The servers were usually based outside India, allowing the users to fraudulently gain unauthorised access to a computer network in contravention of rules and regulations. These software makers were based out of major metro cities and were connected with agents through different WhatsApp groups. It was thus important for us to penetrate their network. My team also went undercover and one of our team members posed as a customer to see how an agent booked the ticket. And then we followed the electronic trail. Following the crackdown, IRCTC has introduced multiple security features to their website to keep a check on such bookings. But you can never be sure of a foolproof system. The nature and magnitude of cyber crimes are changing every day. Last month, I arrested four hackers, who booked tickets online from the website of the UP’s State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) without paying up. We managed to figure their modus operandi before they could cause a bigger damage. We found that they were exploiting the vulnerabilities of the online payment system of the UPSRTC website to book counterfeit e-tickets through a software called ‘Burp Suite’. After procuring these free tickets, they would then sell them on WhatsApp and Facebook groups. Robbers no longer need to enter a bank with guns to steal money, it can happen with just a click of a button. Here, the robber doesn’t have a face, or any record, all we have is a digital footprint. He or She can operate from any part of the world. Most cyber criminals are young and energetic and eager to learn. They know a bit of scripting. And with a few sessions of hacking tutorials available on the internet, they are ready for the kill. They are learning something new each day, so cops working on cyber crime, need to hone their skills every day. The digital world comes with its own set of banes. While technology has made our lives hassle-free, it has also opened new avenues for thefts and frauds. From withdrawing money through cloned cards to trading vital information on the web, all this is happening in India. Unfortunately, not many in our law enforcement agencies are skilled enough to tackle such crimes.]]>

Food poisoning hits Tejas Express

And its India’s best train yet

The Tejas Express is India’s first high-speed train and runs five days between Mumbai and Goa, except for monsoon season when it runs three days. Capable of 200 kmph, the train averages 130 kmph on its eight-hour run. A showpiece of the Indian Railways, the train features 9-inch infotainment screens with every seat, vaccum bio-toilets, tea- and coffee-vending machines, secured gangways, automatic doors—features that make it a semi-luxury train. It was launched on May 22 this year, then railway minister Suresh Prabhu promising it would “redefine the travel experience in India”. The next Tejas routes are Delhi-Lucknow and Delhi-Chandigarh.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), responsible for catering on the Tejas, has launched an investigation. A Central Railway official, who didn’t want to be named, said: “The passengers complained of uneasiness and nausea around 12.10 p.m. after eating the breakfast served to them. The train was stopped at Chiplon railway station around 3.15 p.m. and the passengers who complained were deboarded.” The train was on its way from Goa’s Karmali to Mumbai’s Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus. “The Konkan Railway officials had arranged first aid and ambulances for the passengers. And the passengers were taken to government and private hospital,” he said. In response to the food quality complaint, the IRCTC in a series of tweets said: “Food samples have been taken for investigation. A total of 230 breakfast (117 Vegetarian + 113 Non Vegetarian) have been served.” “Director Catering services is proceeding to Mumbai to follow up the matter. Follow of action and monitoring is being done to ensure proper assistance.”

A disgusting first run 

The Tejas Express had a particularly inauspicious start when it was first flagged off on May 22. To begin with, some coaches of the train that were manufactured at Kapurthala reached Mumbai with shattered windows even before the inaugural journey. Vandalism remains on track. Then, on the first run, the train came back to Mumbai with damaged infotainment screens—mostly because passengers tried to remove them—and stolen headphones. The toilets, despite having vacuum disposal, hadn’t been flushed after use and were horribly dirty. Litter marked the length of the train.
  Meanwhile, IRCTC Chairman and Managing Director M.P. Mall said: “The food was supplied from Madgaon (Goa) base kitchen under our supervision and nothing abnormal was reported. But everything is being investigated.” He also said that the IRCTC has collected the raw material from the kitchen. Mall said that the passengers were provided breakfast along with Knorr soup. “We are investigating the entire matter,” he said, adding that he has spoken to passngers admitted in hospitals. “The passengers admitted in hospital are out of danger,” the IRCTC official added. (with IANS) // ]]>