It has been over 10 days since the Bharatiya Janata Party’s website was hacked and it is not yet back online. Following the breach on March 5, the homepage of the website showed a meme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The website was then taken down, and since then it has displayed a message saying the party was carrying out maintenance work. No hacker group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which came weeks after the website of its Chhattisgarh unit was defaced.
On March 12, Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the website was hacked only for a few minutes, IANS reported. “There are rogue elements in the society,” the minister told reporters at the Digitial India summit in New Delhi. “The site was hacked only for a few minutes. We got back control very soon.” However, he did not say when the site was expected to be brought back online.
Unidentified party officials told NDTV the following day that the meme indicated political sabotage and the party suspects “political adversaries” were behind the website hacking.
“The website could have been brought back up in matter of hours,” the party officials told the news channel. “But we decided to use the bugging as an opportunity to complete a plan to revamp it. The plan had been in place for two to three months. The site’s technology had not been upgraded for five years.”
Cyber-security expert Nandkishore Harikumar told Newslaundry that it was surprising that the party has been unable to restore the website even after 10 days. “Normally, website maintenance takes an hour or two and the portal is up the same day following a crash or hack – provided backups are available,” he told the website. “Restoration of database may take a few days but it is done at the server end during which website can function almost normally.”
Cyber security firm Bulwark Cyberx’s founder Sanjay Goel also agreed with Harikumar. “Maintenance is hardly an hour’s job,” he told Newslaundry. “It seems the BJP is redesigning the whole website. Perhaps the entire backup is also gone. Due to ego issues, they may not disclose it.”
Scroll.in sent queries to Amit Malviya, the BJP’s information and technology cell head, about the delay in getting the website back online. Malviya did not respond to the queries sent on mail or text messages.