Cyber spies from New Delhi: how an Indian IT firm hacked the world

✨ Megiddo

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A massive cyber espionage operation that affected political leaders, businessmen, and even the small Shinnecock Tribe of Long Island.

At the center of an international scandal is the Indian IT company Appin, which is engaged in cyber espionage at the industrial level. The company, which started as a small education startup, has grown into a major player in the cyber espionage industry, hacking into the data of political leaders, international executives, lawyers and many others.

One notable victim of the cyber attacks was Chuck Randall, a member of the Shinnecock Tribe in Long Island, New York. Randall planned to unveil a massive real estate deal that would increase his tribe's stake in a lucrative casino project. However, the leak of his correspondence, distributed in the form of brochures on the Shinnecock Reservation, caused a scandal and led to the collapse of the deal.

A Reuters investigation found that Appin engaged in extensive cyber espionage, hacking the data of political leaders, international executives, prestigious lawyers and many others. The company was one of the leading providers of cyber espionage services to private investigators working on behalf of large businesses, law firms and wealthy clients.

Unauthorized access to computer systems is a crime all over the world, including India. However, Appin actively promoted its capabilities in the areas of “cyber espionage,” “email monitoring,” “cyber warfare,” and “social engineering” in its presentations to potential business partners.

This investigation is based on thousands of company emails, financial records, presentations, photographs and communications, as well as files from law enforcement agencies in the United States, Norway, the Dominican Republic and Switzerland. The materials were collected from various sources, including former company employees and cybersecurity experts.

The investigation verified the authenticity of Appin's communications with the help of 15 sources, including the private investigators who ordered the hacks and former Appin hackers. In addition, the American cybersecurity firm SentinelOne checked the materials for digital forgery and found no evidence of it.

Legal representatives for Rajat Khare, one of Appin's executives, deny their client's involvement in cyber espionage activities. They argue that Khare dedicated his career to the field of information security, not illegal hacking.

This investigation reveals the extent of Appin's activities and also highlights the challenges that international law enforcement agencies face in countering such cyber threats. Appin, although largely out of public view, has had a significant impact, leaving behind replica firms founded by former Appin employees that continue to breach the cybersecurity of thousands of users.
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