Twitter-verse has of late seen a tense atmosphere with four major Indian accounts being hacked by a group called Legion. It started with the hacking of the accounts of the Indian National Congress (INC) and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Gandhi’s twitter hack mostly consisted of offensive tweets but no information was leaked. Similarly for the INC, profane content was posted from their account as well.
This was followed by the hacking of Vijay Mallya’s account wherein information about the cars he owned, passwords for his online accounts, his emails were ‘dumped’ on a particular website and the link put on his Twitter for everyone to access. The next victim was NDTV journalist Barkha Dutt, whose Twitter account also gave away personal IDs and passwords and email dumps. This was soon followed by another NDTV journalist Ravish Kumar’s Twitter being hacked.
In some tweets on Mallya’s Twitter timeline, the group claimed they will bring to the fore all major secrets and frauds of the liquor baron and warned against ‘messing’ with them. While partial email dumps have been leaked, they have promised to leak more emails. They also claim that their next target would be Lalit K. Modi, businessman and IPL founder.
The tweets by the group on these accounts have all been deleted and the accounts restored. However, this major security breach has threatened the lives of journalists and politicians online. The question remains – who are the Legion?
In one of the tweets, the group asked for support at sigaint.org. Ironically, the website that the link leads to, claims to provide email protection to journalists and activists from “dragnet surveillance” that is prevalent online. Once you sign up with Sigaint, you will be given access to a Tor bundle through which you can access a website that has been hosted on the ‘onion’ domain. The Tor and .onion combination exists to hide the online activities of a person.
A tor web browser is used essentially to hide your identity and activities online and .onion is a domain suffix for private use. It designates an anonymous hidden service that can only be reached through the Tor network.
Whether the Legion group is the same as the Sigaint network has not been established but for a tweet asking for support on the website. However, it does show that the group is well versed with the ways of hiding and revealing people’s identities.
Legion group also leads to The Legion of Doom, a popular group of hackers that was active in the United States from 1980s to 1990s and then in 2000s. It now lies low. However, there doesn’t seem to be an established or purported connection between the Legion of Doom and the Legion group that is hacking accounts in India.
In response to the hacking of Twitter accounts of NDTV journalists, NDTV tweeted, “Email, Twitter accounts of senior NDTV journalists have been hacked. Attempts being made to use emails out of context. We are asking relevant authorities, including courts, to take strong action.” Barkha Dutt and Ravish Kumar, however, did not individually respond to the hacking incident.
Rahul Gandhi had a warm reaction to the hacking as he responded by saying people who hated him only refused to see love. “To every one of you haters out there. I love all of you. You’re beautiful. Your hatred just doesn’t let you see it yet,” he said.
The INC Twitter announced their comeback more evidently. “Hello everyone! We are back. The tweets in the morning lacked wit, evidently. Anyway, Mr Modi, back to people’s questions, care to answer?” it said.
Vijay Mallya claimed that the people who had hacked his account were blackmailing him. “Outfit called Legion has hacked my e-mail accounts and are blackmailing me !! What a joke,” he said.
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