India’s Hacking Industry Exposed


In the summer of 2020, a private investigator named Jonas Rey received a call from a client, the law firm Burlington, who believed their client, Farhad Azima, had hacked his email account. The investigators suspected BellTroX, a hacking-for-hire company based in India, was responsible. Citizen Lab, a research center, recently released a report implicating BellTroX in cyberattacks on journalists, environmentalists, and financiers. Rey’s investigation into the Azima case revealed the extent of India’s cyberattack industry and its interconnected network of hackers for hire.

Rey’s investigation led him to an Indian cybersecurity consultant named Aditya Jain, who had worked for a hacking-for-hire company called Appin Security. Jain admitted to hacking Azima’s accounts and revealed that another Indian firm, CyberRoot, had stolen even more data and posted it online. However, Jain faced threats and harassment after disclosing this information, and Rey helped him escape to ensure his safety. With Jain’s cover blown, Rey convinced him to stop being an anonymous source. Jain admitted to hacking Azima’s data in court filings.

A private investigator, Stuart Page, also confessed that he had lied about the hacking. He revealed that he had worked with an Israeli private investigator who had hired hackers to access confidential data. Page admitted that they had rehearsed a false narrative to mislead the court.

The London court granted Azima a retrial based on the new evidence scheduled for the future. However, a report from the London Sunday Times questioned the credibility of Jain and Rey, claiming they were more involved in the hacking-for-hire business than they admitted. The report alleged that Jain had engaged in hacking activities and that Rey had hired him to target multiple individuals, including the President of Switzerland. Rey and Jain disputed the report, suggesting that an imposter had impersonated Jain and manipulated the journalists.

The situation surrounding the case and the allegations have become complicated, with accusations and counter-accusations. Rey has filed a defamation complaint against the Sunday Times. In contrast, Jain has filed a police report in India alleging conspiracy and impersonation. The truth behind these allegations and the extent of India’s hacking-for-hire industry will likely be revealed through the retrial of Azima’s case.

If you’re interested, the New Yorker wrote all about this: Read the Article here.

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