The reserve uses the GPS collars to track the location of the three-year-old male tiger (in addition to other tigers), as part of a project called ‘Panna-211.’ Experts say that this is the first time someone has ever tried to hack into a GPS collar worn by a tiger.
The GPS trackers were implemented in order to protect the rare cats from poachers, but the hacking incident cancels this out. Obviously, people can get close enough to the tigers to steal GPS collars or to hung the giant cats.
How Did It Happen?
Reserve officials say that one of the Bengal tigers wearing a GPS tracker was captured by a poacher. The poacher then used that GPS tracking collar to hack into the reserve’s computers, gaining access to the GPS location database. Once they hackers got into the system, they had access to the location data on each and every tiger in the reserve that was wearing a GPS tracker. Talk about easy poaching!
Researchers are still baffled as to how the poachers were able to gain access to the database. Only three of the reserve’s researchers had the passwords to access the location data. Regardless, hackers were able to break into an email account and obtain confidential log-in and password information.
Researchers are currently try to decide whether or not to file a complaint against those that are in charge of the research project. Additionally, researchers are investigating whether or not a security breach happened.
It’s possible that the case falls under the ‘Information Technology Act,’ Section 66 to be more specific, which punishes hackers with a prison sentence of three years, as well as in violation of the ‘Wildlife Protection Act’ of 1972 for attempted poaching.
What Is Being Done
If only they could find the hacker to hand out a punishment! Wildlife officials are scrutinizing every movement of the tigers because of this, as no one knows whether or not hackers are still obtaining the GPS location data.
And that’s all they can do, really: watch and wait. Hopefully, the poachers will try to act again, since this will give researchers the trigger needed to quickly find and arrest the culprits. Right now, researchers wait for information from IT experts that are in the process of reviewing data.
Until then, they wait – and hope that the hacker (or group of hackers) is eventually brought to justice.
Photo by Keith Roper via Flickr Creative Commons