Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hacker is someone who lives in Gunina building, says ATS

Police say US national Ken Heywood’s wi-fi network had range of just 20 metres, which puts his neighbours on the next floor under the ATS scanner

The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) of Maharashtra police have ruled out the possibility of American Ken Heywood’s laptop being hacked into from some other part of the city. ATS officers say they are now certain that Heywood’s laptop was hacked from inside Gunina building — his residence — and not by sending a virus or breaking into his system from elsewhere in the city, state or country. Investigations revealed that Heywood’s wi-fi network did not have a range of more than 20 metres.

This has brought Heywood’s neighbours in the building under the ATS scanner.

Heywood, an American national residing in Gunina building in Sanpada, became a suspect after an email claiming responsibility for the Ahmedabad blasts, sent minutes before the blasts took place, was traced to his computer. Investigations suggested that his laptop may have been hacked into to send the email.

An ATS officer said, “It can now be said with 100 per cent certainty that his email account was hacked into by someone inside the building.” Confirming this, ATS DIG Parambir Singh said, “Our investigations show that his laptop was hacked from within a range of 15-20 metres of its location.”

This range suggests that Heywood’s computer was hacked into either from the terrace — Heywood lives on the top (15th) floor — or from a floor below. “We are questioning people,” said Singh.

Earlier, police investigations dwelt on various possibilities like his laptop being hacked into from somewhere else by sending a Trojan Horse virus or someone hacking into his network from near the Gunina building after intruding into his wi-fi network.

As a wi-fi network has a range of 100-200 metres, the police believed someone may have hacked into Heywood’s network by coming close to the building or while sitting in a car on the road opposite the building.

But after it was found that Heywood’s network did not have a range of more than 20 metres, investigations were narrowed down to occupants of the building. “We personally carried laptops in and around the building to check Heywood’s laptop’s wi-fi range.

We could not find it outside the building. It was limited to 15-20 metres from his house,” said Singh.

The police are now trying to find out why Heywood’s laptop was chosen for the job. Police believe that the perpetrators of the crime were aware that Heywood had an unlimited internet connection through wi-fi.

They were also aware that his laptop was most often on and that he hadn’t changed his password.

“These suggest that someone close to Heywood or someone who knew details of his network passed on the information to the man who hacked into his network. We are questioning people in this regard as well,” said Singh.

POLICE MEET INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS

The Crime Branch called an emergency meeting of all Internet Service Providers (ISP) and companies like Orkut, Google, Yahoo, Rediffmail, BSNL etc on Wednesday to discuss the space security system that could help them track suspicious emails. Soon after the Ahmedabad blasts, the Mumbai ATS was flooded with anonymous calls and e-mails and had a tough time tracking threatening mail sent to the ATS and police soon after the blasts.

"We have asked for their co-operation in such situations," said additional commissioner of police (crime) Deven Bharti.

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