Many serving Indian Army officers have received a suspicious e-mail purportedly from the principal controller of defence accounts (officers) PCDA (O).
The email contained a link and asked the recipients to follow it and update their details as a part of database maintenance.
The email has since been declared fake, and it is suspected that this was a phishing attempt by foreign hackers to obtain crucial information about the Indian Army.
The PCDA (O) has put up a special advisory on its official website, advising officers not to respond to, or click on the given URL. The advisory clarifies that no such e-mail was sent by them.
Confirming the development, G D Pungle, Principal Control of Defence Accounts, told TOI, “Whenever required, we do issue advisories to officers for security purposes. We endeavour to secure data.”
PCDA (O), located in Pune, deals with salaries and allowances of all the serving officers of the Indian Army, including the Army Chief.
PCDA (O) sources told TOI that the advisory was issued after officers on sensitive postings contacted the office and made enquiries about the email.
“Officers are requested not to click on the URL/ reply to the email received in the name of the PCDA (O) Pune with the following message, ‘We are maintaining our database please register or login our site and update your details (sic)’,” stated the PCDA (O) advisory.
“The link https://pcda(o)pune.gov.in forwarded with the message diverts the user to a malicious page with a fake domain name. This is a phishing attempt. No such message has been forwarded by PCDA (O) Pune,” the advisory further said.
Senior army officers said hackers from Pakistan and other countries have, in the past, resorted to various tactics to gain sensitive information about army officers.
A senior officer told TOI, “One tactic is to hack the PCDA (O) website, and gain access to the database. In doing this, the hackers would not come to know not only about a particular officer’s salary and allowances, but also where these officers are currently posted. This will help them to understand troop formations and deployments in those particular areas.”
Another officer suspected Pakistan’s hand in this. “It could be a job of Pakistani hackers as they have done it in the past too. The army officers have to be extra careful about such tactics, and not fall prey to such tricks,” he said.
Lt Gen D B Shekatkar, who heads the government-appointed committee for enhancement of the army’s combat capabilities, said, “It is a part of cyber warfare. Pakistani hackers are involved in such activities. Besides, there have been instances where fraudsters managed to siphon off officers’ money. As a result, it is imperative to secure data of such an important office.”