A country wide advisory has been sent to all field formations of the Army and paramilitary forces warning of a cyber attack through mobile phones.
Officials have been told to ensure that officers and men under their control delete certain apps created by Chinese companies or having Chinese links from their mobile phones, whether official or personal.
The advisory comes in the wake of inputs received by the Union Home Ministry from agencies like the R&AW and NTRO.
The advisory says, “As per reliable inputs, a number of android/IOS apps developed by Chinese developers or having Chinese links are reportedly either spyware or other malicious ware. Use of these apps by our force personnel can be detrimental to data security having implications on the force and national security.”
In fact, all personnel have been advised to immediately uninstall the app and format their cellphones. The apps dubbed as Chinese spyware includes TrueCaller, Weibo, WeChat, UC News, UC Browser and Baidu Maps.
It isn’t immediately clear as to whether any agency has reported any case of espionage through the cyber route in recent days or even if these malware have compromised systems.
But this isn’t the first time that red flags have been raised over defence forces being targeted by Chinese hackers. India faced its biggest cyber attack in 2012 when ITBP was compromised.
The attack was tracked to North Korea. ITBP had been repeatedly warned of an impending cyber attack by NTRO and the matter was even taken up at the level f the PMO.
ITBP’s positions, troop movement, bunkers and other critical information was reportedly leaked at that time. This time too, cyber security agencies have warned that ITBP is particularly vulnerable.
A phishing attack, also in 2012, had compromised the SPG. Then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s travel plans to Bangkok in June had been leaked.
“The advanced security liaison had been compromised and the NTRO had pointed this out to the SPG in writing. The security breach which is considered extremely serious was hushed up because the SPG insisted they have been using stand alone or air gapped computers which are not connected to the internet,” say NTRO sources.
The Army Design Bureau had last year red flagged Chinese circuitry in military hardware that could take military networks down. Instructions were sent out last year too advising against the use of Chinese origin smartphones.
IN 2010, the Union Home Ministry had mulled whether Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE could be banned in India. Amongst the many gadgets supplied by these firms, the Home Ministry had flagged modems as being particularly vulnerable.
Source : India Today