The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has detained a Russian national for allegedly hacking into the systems that conduct the All India Engineering Entrance Examination in India. The hacker allegedly breached the systems to help students cheat in the JEE-Main exam in 2021.
The accused was detained in the Bureau of Immigration at Indira Gandhi International Airport while traveling from Almaty, Kazakhstan, to India. Further investigation led the CBI to the Russian hacker, who was arrested one year after the incident. The hacker’s name is yet to be revealed, but Indian news outlets have identified the alleged as ‘Mikhail Shargin.
According to reports, Shargin’s name was connected to the irregularities committee within the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE-Main) conducted last year. For the uninitiated, JEE is a standardized exam requirement that students in India must go through before being admitted to engineering colleges.
JEE-Main Exam hacker arrested by CBI
According to the CBI report, the incident occurred in September 2021, when Shargin hacked into iLeon, an online software platform for conducting and scheduling exams. The hacker could hack into the system and remotely access the questions presented to the students.
The hacker’s goal was to remotely access the systems and solve the questions on behalf of the students. The students, their guardians or family members were required to pay an operating amount of Rs 12-15 lakh Rupees ($14,700-$18,400) once they secured college admissions.
The Indian Express reported that the National Testing Agency (NTA) declared the final result for the 2021 exams, and 24 candidates could score 100 percentile in the overall merit list. Meaning several students who may or may not have been involved in the cheating would have gotten admission to the Engineering colleges by now. The CBI assessed Shargin’s associates as “manipulating the online examination of JEE (Mains)” and facilitating the students into cheating in one of India’s top-tier examinations.
The CBI investigated the case and initiated searches in 19 locations in Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, and others. It confiscated over 25 laptops, seven computer systems, and several pieces of equipment that can be used as evidence.