Hackers Trying To Steal Defence Secrets From India

Hackers Trying To Steal Defense Secrets From India.

Even as Chinese and Pakistani online espionage agents continue theirattempts to hack into Indian computer systems, hostile intelligenceagencies are also trying to steal defence secrets through use ofcomputer storage media (CSM) devices like pen drives, removable harddisks, CDs, VCDs and the like.

The Intelligence Bureau has sounded a red alert about "intelligenceofficers of a hostile country'' encouraging their "assets'' working inIndian defence establishments to use CSM devices to pilfer classifiedinformation from computer networks.

"There have been reports of increasing number of incidents of leakageof data/documents in defence establishments through the use of pendrives 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 differentestablishments, said sources.

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

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

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

With cyber-warfare being a top military priority for China, its onlineespionage agents frequently break into sensitive Indian computernetworks. A group of Canadian and American cyber-security researchersin their recent report `Shadows in the Cloud', in fact, heldChina-based hackers were regularly accessing classified documents fromseveral Indian defence and security establishments, as reported by TOIearlier.

MoD, however, says "only certain internet-facing computers, which hadno 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 untowardincident''.

The Defence Information Assurance and Research Agency (DIARA), a nodalagency mandated to deal with all cyber-security matters, for instance,is working closely with national agencies like the Computer EmergencyResponse Team and the National Technical Research Organisation. Thearmed 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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