Hostile agencies trying to steal defence secrets from India.

arunim's picture

NEW DELHI: Even as Chinese
and Pakistani online espionage agents continue their attempts to hack
into Indian computer systems, hostile intelligence agencies
are also trying to steal defence secrets through
use of computer storage media (CSM) devices like pen drives, removable
hard disks, CDs, VCDs and the like.

The Intelligence Bureau has sounded a red alert about "intelligence
officers of a hostile country'' encouraging their "assets'' working in
Indian defence establishments to use CSM devices to pilfer classified
information from computer networks.

"There have been reports of increasing number of incidents of leakage
of data/documents in defence establishments through the use of pen
drives and other digital storage devices,'' says the security alert,
issued to the defence ministry as well as the Army, Navy and IAF HQs.

Consequently, MoD has ordered a
thorough review of the entire policy on "the entitlement and usage of
CSM devices'' in its different establishments, said sources.

While acknowledging the functional necessity to allow some
officers to use such devices, MoD has asked for a comprehensive
directorate-wise list of pen drives, laptops and internet connections
being used in its different offices.

This comes even as the Army is conducting a court of inquiry against a
major posted in the strategically-located Andaman and Nicobar
Command , who had stored over 2,000 classified and sensitive
documents on his personal computer which was "hacked'' from Pakistan
earlier this year.

While the major
has been cleared of espionage charges, the probe dwells upon how he was
in the "unauthorised'' possession of so many secret documents, normally
handled by much senior officers, and why he violated cyber-security
guidelines, which expressly prohibit such files from being stored on a
computer with internet connectivity.

With cyber-warfare being a top military priority for China
, its online espionage agents frequently break into sensitive
Indian computer networks. A group of Canadian and American
cyber-security researchers in their recent report `Shadows in the
Cloud', in fact, held China-based hackers were regularly accessing
classified documents from several Indian defence and security
establishments, as reported by TOI earlier.

MoD, however, says "only certain internet-facing computers,
which had no sensitive defence data, were compromised'' by the Chinese
hackers. To prevent such incidents from recurring, "a crisis management
plan'' has been worked out "for measured response in case of any
untoward incident''.

Defence Information Assurance and Research Agency (DIARA), a
nodal agency mandated to deal with all cyber-security matters, for
instance, is working closely with national agencies like the
Computer Emergency Response Team and the National
Technical Research Organisation . The armed forces, on their
part, are also on a high alert to guard against "focussed large-scale
cyber attacks'' on their networks


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