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ISRO’s commercial website hacked and defaced

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Bengaluru, (IANS) In a major security breach, the website of the Indian space agency’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation has been hacked, a senior official admitted on Sunday.

“Home page of our commercial division (Antrix) has been defaced. We are finding out how it happened,” an ISRO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IANS.

The website (www.antrix.gov.in) was blocked within minutes after its home page was found having weird content and a message saying “This site is under construction. Come back soon” put up.

In place of information about Antrix and its activities, the home page had an article in English on “about 300 kids from Cape Town getting American Major League jerseys at cheap prices in China”.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) declined to confirm if Chinese hackers were behind the incident.

“Our technical teams are investigating the incident. We would not comment without knowing how it happened and who is behind it,” said the official.

The space agency’s own website (www.isro.gov.in) and its other associated sites are safe and are accessible.

Incidentally, Antrix home page was hacked two days after the space agency on Friday night deployed five British commercial satellites.

“The Antrix Corporation’s website certainly seemed to be hacked a couple of days back. And the company has pulled down the site. It was hacked in 2011 too. It seems the company has not taken sufficient security measures,” city-based Cyber Security and Privacy Foundation founder J. Prasanna told IANS.

On Friday, Antrix Corporation’s chairman and managing director V.S.Hegde told IANS that the company’s website is being revamped and annual reports would be uploaded on the site.

According to Prasanna, the link given to a Chinese shop could be a diversionary tactic to give a China angle to the hacking.

He said for hackers of government websites and public sector undertakings, Friday is the prime day as the next two days are holidays.

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

Also Read: British Parliament Access Internal Facebook Data Scandal Papers: Report

Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)