Campus TMJ Special

Was ION at 9th block hacked?3 min read

October 22, 2015 2 min read

Was ION at 9th block hacked?3 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

ION’s existence in the 9th block of the Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) hostels has been a rarity for most of the ongoing semester. As a result, the customer care executives of ION are constantly bombarded with complaint calls. But what came as a surprise was the disclaimer displayed on the login page of the service which cited hacking being carried out by the students. The notice, which was taken down after three weeks, warned the students that the logs are being monitored and that action will be taken if the problem persists.

“The network is pretty bad here in the 9th block and every time we contact the customer care executive, we don’t get the desired results. So I went in person and spoke to the authorities. They told me that they shall send the technicians,” stated Shubham Das, a second year MIT student, and a resident of the 9th block. This is not the first time ION has received complaints after the service deserted students of MIT earlier this year during sessionals. However, the disclaimer that appeared recently warning students of hacking was a new development.

As per clause 66 (1) of the Information Technology Act of 2000, hacking is considered a cyber crime and the accused can be imprisoned for three years or slashed a fine up to two lakh rupees or both. The intensity of the problem remained unknown for a long time and this is what Sathish Kamath, Assistant Director of the Information Technology (IT) department, Manipal University (MU) had to say:

“It is our responsibility to ensure security and make sure that the operations run according to the norms. Snooping attacks, which generate a lot of unnecessary data traffic, have been reported. Certain junk tools are used for this and when one generates excess traffic, the server goes down. To avoid that, all that we can do is configuring the network in such a way that the amount data transmitted through one port is limited. In that way, if the transmitted data exceeds the threshold, the port will automatically get shut.”

Krishna Bhat, Project Manager of ION, Manipal, stated that these snooping attacks cause the slow Wi-Fi speed in the hostels. He also specified that an attack in one hostel block would affect the speed of the network in the other blocks as well.

When asked about the monitoring message, he added, “Monitoring is done from the local office and the Mumbai office. No particular person has been identified as the cause behind this. If they (students) try to do something and get involved in some cyber crimes, the issue will become serious, which is why we have put up the notice as a caution.”

In order to check the recurrence of these attacks, the ION management has installed certain monitoring tools and certain ports have been blocked. “The network is better now in the 9thblock”, exclaimed Sathish Kamath.

However, further complicating the situation, a second signal named ‘[email protected]th-Block-T’ emerged. ‘[email protected]th – Block’ is the default name of the signal and the appearance of the other signal raised suspicions that the ‘T’ signal could be a hacking signal. The doubts intensified as the signal name carries a message at the bottom saying ‘Information sent over this network might be visible to others’.

Students like Shubam, speculate that someone is trying to hack the network to access the other accounts and make use of the private information. Putting this fire off, Krishna Bhat said that the other signal is an authorized one and that it shall cause no harm, if someone connects to it.

Edited by Kavana Desai