London turns into global capital of cybercrimes and hacking


While hacking is illegal in the United Kingdom, a group of hackers from India, who are using sophisticated hacking devices and software, including Pegasus are being hired by various individuals and groups for infiltrating into emails and telephone communications (including WhatsApp and Telegram conversation and texts) of targeted VIPs in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt, Cambodia, Canada and other countries in the world.

According to an investigative report published in UK’s prestigious The Sunday Times newspaper, Indian hackers have seized control of computers owned by Pakistani politicians, army officials, including Generals, and diplomats and eavesdropped on their private conversations.

The investigation found that victims were often befriended by Indian hackers on social media and the hackers sent them something interesting to click on. When they clicked, they downloaded malware onto their computer allowing the hacker to access their email inboxes.

The Indian hackers that The Sunday Times spoke to boasted they were never caught. Most began as cybersecurity experts. The Indian hacker who confessed to have used Pegasus – claimed to have hacked the passenger list for EgyptAir. He said, no one in India was trying to prosecute hackers as the “Indian police did not understand these things”.

The so-called ‘hack-for-hire’ network is alleged to have hacked the private email accounts of a string of British politicians, Government officials, journalists and businessmen, according to a joint investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Sunday Times.

The former head of European football Michel Platini was allegedly hacked just before he was going to speak to French police about corruption claims in relation to the World Cup in Qatar.

Elsewhere, the president of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis was allegedly hacked after he met Boris Johnson and Liz Truss to discuss Russian sanctions.

And Ms Truss’s chief of staff Mark Fullbrook was said to be another high-profile victim, while the emails of Formula One motor racing bosses Ruth Buscombe and Otmar Szafnauer were also allegedly broken into.

Former Tory Cabinet minister David Davis dubbed London ‘the global center of hacking’.

He told The Sunday Times: “It paints a grim picture of a network of criminal hacking that threatens justice and privacy here in the UK and across the world”.

Meanwhile, there is controversy centering the FIFA World Cup 2022. According to media reports, Qatar government is once again under fire. This time, as per a Sunday Times investigation, they have hired an Indian hacking group to silence descent and critics of the World Cup. While the government has furiously denied the reports, the undercover investigation has revealed how top FIFA and UEFA officials including former UEFA chief Michel Platini were targeted.

UK’s Sunday Times and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism received a leaked database. It revealed the hacking of a dozen lawyers, journalists, and famous people from 2019 “commissioned by one particular client”.

“This investigation points strongly to this client being the host of (the) World Cup: Qatar”, Sunday Times reported.

However, soon Qatar Govt hit back, terming the report as “patently false and without merit”.

Platini, who was hacked ahead of talks with French police about World Cup-related graft claims, told AFP he was “surprised and deeply shocked” by the report.

He said he would be exploring all possible legal avenues over what appeared to be a serious “violation” of his privacy.

London-based consultant Ghanem Nuseibeh whose company Cornerstone produced a report on corruption relating to the World Cup was also targeted, the Sunday Times said in its report based on the joint investigation.

Others included Nathalie Goulet, a French senator and vocal critic of Qatar for allegedly financing “Islamic terrorism” and Mark Somos, a Germany-based lawyer, who had made a complaint about the Qatari royal family to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The controversy comes two weeks before the World Cup is due to kick off in the conservative Gulf state on November 20.

The newspaper alleged that the hacking was masterminded by a 31-year-old accountancy firm employee, who denies the claims.

Based in Gurugram, his network of computer hackers allegedly ensnared their targets using “phishing” techniques to gain access to their email inboxes, sometimes also deploying malicious software to take control of their computer cameras and microphones.

Hacking attacks were not limited, however, to those with an interest in the Qatar World Cup. In total more than 100 victims had their private email accounts targeted by the gang. The report claimed that the group targeted them “on behalf of investigators working for autocratic states, British lawyers, and their wealthy clients”.

This allegation comes amid growing concerns for cybersecurity. While China, North Korea and Russian hacking groups have been the prime suspects, this first time that an Indian hacking group has been accused of targeting powerful people.

A Qatari official rejected the allegations, describing the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s (TBIJ) report as “littered with glaring inconsistencies and falsehoods that undermine the credibility of their organization”.

“The report relies on a single source who claims his ultimate client was Qatar, despite there being no evidence to prove it. Numerous companies have also boasted of non-existent ties to Qatar in an attempt to boost their profile in the run up to the World Cup,” the official told AFP in a statement.

“TBIJ’s decision to publish the report without a single piece of credible evidence to connect their allegations to Qatar raises serious concerns about their motives, which appear to be driven by political, rather than public interest, reasons,” the official added.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here