#Hacking of Kathmandupress news portal

More troubling questions than answers after Shiran Technologies issues statement

Published On: April 3, 2020 10:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, April 3: Subash Sharma, F1Soft’s CEO, issued a statement yesterday at 10:04PM via his Twitter handle (@subashsharma).

However, the statement raises more questions than answers about Shiran Technologies illegal hacking of Kathmandupress website. Shiran is one of many subsidiaries of F1Soft. Republica talked to IT security experts who pointed out these questions after reading Shiran’s statement. 

How is it possible for people working at Shiran Technologies to delete a news from webportal’s backend when its management and Kathmandupress.com’s editor Govinda Pariyar were in conversation? Without explicit order from the management, is it possible for the employees to go to the extent of deleting news from a webportal?

Shiran’s statement does not talk about who ordered the employees to remove the news. And the statement is unclear if those involved have faced action. 

Shiran says once editor Pariyar informed them of the incident, they cooperated with them to have the news re-published. However, in a statement issued by Kathmandupress, F1Soft’s president Biswas Dhakal and vice-president and PM’s IT consultant Asgar Ali only responded to Pariyar’s calls after informing them of pursuing legal means. 

Shiran’s statement directly contradicts that of Kathmandupress statement. It says Shiran fully cooperated with Kathmandupress to re-publish the news soon after they knew of the news being deleted. However, Kathmandupress says their website was under Shiran’s full control from 2 to 4PM. The news portal was not able to access and upload news during this whole period. 

Shiran’s statement is silent about calls from F1Soft’s president Biswas Dhakal, PM’s IT consultant and F1Soft’s vice president Asgar Ali and F1Soft’s CEO Subash Sharma to Kathmandupress management to remove the news.

The statement is also silent about Ujjwal Maharajan's (from Shiran) calls to Kathmandupress to remove the news, and the latter’s warning to not to do so. 

This episode is even more troubling due to several reasons. First, F1Soft has access to public money and data in dozens of financial institutions in Nepal. Safety and privacy of those information is now suddenly at risk. Second, Asgar Ali, F1Soft’s vice president, has used his position as PM’s IT consultant to bag big contracts to F1Soft and its subsidiary companies without competitive bidding. Moreover, he has been going around different government agencies, asking for personal data of Nepalis to be handled by his private company. 

Kathmandupress episode also demonstrates the extent Ali and his team can go to silence who dare question him and his companies’ illegal activities. 

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