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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Illegal VOIP exchange linked to ISI busted in Kerala

An espionage attempt by Pakistan’s rogue spy agency ISI to acquire sensitive defence information, has been busted in Kerala. Hilar Tacharail Mohammed Kutty (Mohd. Kutty) a native of Palakkad has been arrested by Military Intelligence from Changaramkulam in Malappuram district of Kerala.  

Mohd. Kutty used to work in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He was indoctrinated to enter into this spy network there. He returned back to Bharat and started a software business, but began running an illegal telephone exchange using VOIP behind the business facade

Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) uses the internet to make voice calls and can even connect to local phone/cell networks. This makes it hard to trace the caller.

Last year in September, military officials in Bharat received phone calls from unknown numbers asking for sensitive defence details. The callers specifically wanted to know about the army deployment in Jammu & Kashmir. On receiving information about these calls, Army’s Military Intelligence swung into action. They looped in police forces from other states. Investigations led officials to this VOIP network. Raids were conducted in Noida, UP and Kerala.

SIM box (SIM bank) is the device used as part of the VOIP gateway installation. Two SIM boxes, 100 slots, 200 sim cards, 2 routers, 3 modems, antenna, batteries and connectors were found. Mohd. Kutty used an illegal and unauthorised telephone network for his anti national activities

It it is illegal to have VoIP gateways inside Bharat. This effectively means that people who have PCs can use them to make a VoIP call to any number, but if the remote side is a normal phone, the gateway that converts the VoIP call to a regular phone/mobile call should not be inside Bharat.

The accused used to transfer international calls using unauthorised VOIP networks. They contacted Bharat military phone numbers with intention to use any such information received, for Pakistani interests. As the illegal VOIP gateways were located in Bharat, military officials were under the impression that they are speaking to someone in their own country.

It is reported that more arrests will follow. Chinese equipment and technology was used, and a Chinese national too has been arrested.  In July 2018, a similar illegal VOIP telephone exchange was busted in Latur, Maharashtra.

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