Government officials warned of technological threats – Technology News, Firstpost



Witnessing massive violations of national communications security policy guidelines and government instructions by officials and to control leaks of classified information, a new communications security advisory has been issued by the intelligence community, News18 has learned.

According to the sources, the new communication has asked all government officials not to use WhatsApp, Telegram, etc. to share confidential information as private companies operate storage servers located outside the country and can be misused for various exchanges. Sources said the communications also provided instructions on video conferencing and for officials working from home.

All ministries have been asked to take “urgent steps” to stop such violations and follow communications security policies and guidelines when dealing with confidential, secret or restricted communications.

“Several officials scan a classified document, save it on their mobile, and send and share it with others through private applications. New devices pose a major risk to national security and should be avoided when discussing important classified or classified matters by all ministries,” a senior official who was informed about the development told News18 on condition of anonymity.

Top government sources said the new communication sent to all ministries advises officials to keep their smartphones and smartwatches out of the room during meetings where secret issues need to be discussed. In offices, officers and staff are not allowed to keep various office assistant devices such as Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, Google Home, etc. Furthermore, digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa in smartphones and smartwatches must be turned off when entering a meeting where secret issues are being discussed. Smartphones must be deposited outside the conference room while discussing undisclosed issues.

Since several government officials are working from home, guidelines have been shared for this.

No sharing classified information from home

Sources aware of the development told News18 that when using digital office systems, officers have been advised to avoid sharing classified, classified information or home configuration documents. The system must be connected to the office network via a virtual private network. Officials have been asked to use only secure devices. Sources also said that the electronic official system cannot be accessed from home and must be connected through an office network. Officials don’t share classified, classified information from home.

Avoid discussing important things on VC

Sources said that for virtual meetings, the communications say no classified information or issues are discussed during VCs and should be done in an office setting. Instead of private meeting applications, all civil servants and ministries should use the Indian government setup. VC solutions established by the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), National Informatics Center (NIC), etc., should be used and access should be done through passwords and waiting room facilities, attendance should be marked during video conferencing, said the sources.

Why mobile apps pose a threat?

A senior cybersecurity official in several ministries said countries such as Pakistan and China are developing applications that contain security vulnerabilities and can be used as spyware. “No one knows which application may contain spyware and it is mandatory to follow communications security guidelines issued by security authorities. Different countries develop applications, install servers in different locations and store data that can be accessed by law enforcement agencies of these countries,” the official said.

According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, a mobile app that will be mandatory for all participants in next month’s Olympic Winter Games in Beijing contains security flaws that could make it easy for a hacker to steal sensitive personal information, cybersecurity researchers in Canada warn . .

“The China-built app, My 2022, will be used to monitor the health of attendees and facilitate information sharing ahead of and during the 2022 Games. Technicians from Citizen Lab, a human rights-focused research group in the field of Cybersecurity and Censorship at the University of Toronto, said they found the app could not verify the identity of certain websites, leaving the transfer of personal data open to attackers,” the news release said.

India banned Chinese apps

The government of India blocked nearly 100 apps of Chinese origin in the country in 2020 with well-known names such as TikTok, SHAREit, UC Browser and WeChat, CamScanner, etc., in addition to the online game PUBG.

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