Hacking scare leads to norms for smartphones

Amid attempts of hacking and data theft by Pakistan and China, the government has come up with a smartphone policy for officials dealing with sensitive information.

To begin with, the government has put curbs on officials connecting their phones to office computers. They will not be allowed to even to charge the phone battery. Further, every such device will have to be approved by seniors, said a top government official.

The rules would apply to armed forces, intelligence officials and personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). On May 3, Minister of State (Home) Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhury had informed the Lok Sabha that “Pakistan Intelligence Agencies were spying on Indian Security Forces by sending malwares in mobile apps such as Top Gun (Game App), mpjunkie (music App), vdjunky (video app), talking frog (entertainment App).”

Experts consulted

The official said the policy had been formulated after taking suggestions from several cyber experts.

“We have circulated the policy to all the government offices, especially those working in the field of intelligence gathering,” he said.

“Every day, there are multiple attempts to hack government computers and smartphones can unknowingly aid the hacking through miscellaneous applications downloaded on the device,” said the official.

Authorisation must

A Union government note said: “Use of personal devices must be authorised by competent authority with documented forms maintained to reflect approvals. This documentation should include information such as officer’s name, device approved and type of device.”

It also says, “under no circumstances these devices should be connected to any computer network or stand alone systems in the establishment.”

An official explained that the Border Security Force jawans deployed along the Pakistan border are more susceptible to such hacking attempts.

Elaborating on this, the government note said, “smart devices should not be allowed during sensitive meetings or briefings. Taking of pictures and videos, which may compromise the security of BSF assets and posting them on social media was strictly prohibited.” Mr. Chaudhury had also told the Lok Sabha that “Indian Security forces have been sensitised about Pakistan ISI using dubious applications on smartphones and the government has asked various departments to take steps to prevent, detect and mitigate cyber attacks.”


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