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Indian Army draws LoC on internet use for officers

January 27, 2012 14:21 IST

While the world of internet and social networking sites is being increasingly by citizens, companies, or even the governments across the globe, the Indian Armed Forces are bracing against cyber attacks, cyber honey traps after several incidents of possible hacking and honey trapping came to light.

A new policy on use of social networking sites and internet is now being implemented. It is said that cyber-attacks have the ability to cripple a nation's ability to defend itself. In view of this, the Indian Army is actively bracing itself to deal with even the faintest cyber-attack -- direct or indirect.

Very recently it has been found that Facebook and Orkut profiles of several officers were hacked and infused with Trojans.

A preliminary investigation has also revealed that the hackers, suspected to be from Pakistan or China, would 'make friends' with other members on the friend list of the officer whose profile has been originally hacked.

After a chatting with the 'friend' of the officers, via Facebook chat, the hacker (who is pretending to be the officer) suggests that he has found an interesting online application which helps in preparing power point presentations very easily which in turn help in studying and official presentation before the commanders.

The hacker then sends a link. On clicking the link, system of the target officer hangs and the entire data gets wiped out or infused with a virus.

After several such incidents were reported, the officials have been instructed to use internet and social networking sites strictly and only for personal use. A police letter to this effect has been drawn out by the director general of military intelligence with detailed instructions on use of internet.

The letter, accessed by rediff.com, states, "As a policy, use of internet through email and social networks is permitted only for private use, and under no circumstances will the personnel disclose their official identity on the internet in any form whatsoever."

Service personnel have been refrained from uploading any information pertaining to their ranks, units or formations, appointment, place of duty or place of movement, contact numbers, pictures in uniform or with backgrounds depicting any defence establishment.

Officers have also been asked to not comment on matters related to the policies or activities of the Indian Defence Services, Ministry of Defence and the government.

One of the other restrictions is forwarding of chain mails pertaining to the armed forces to avoid addresses being given away by way of bulk mails.

Any groups such as NDA 53, SODE97, DSSC65, formed by any course, batch, or unit have been asked to be deleted with immediate effect.

Use of email IDs which give out any direct or indirect hint of affiliation with the forces have also been banned.

Internet usage and social networking is becoming an intrinsic element of personal lifestyles and is emerging as a major tool for exchange of information.

While in the past, a number of guidelines have been issued on the use of internet and social networking sites, they have not been implemented in the desired manner, leading to a large number of cases of breaches in security of information.

Four commander level officers of the Indian Navy are already facing a full-fledged inquiry for using online networks to share sensitive information such as location of ships, frequency and location of patrolling, nature of ammo on board etc.

While defence personnel are not provided with internet connections in their official establishments, an intranet connection is used by the officers for official communication. 

A correspondent in Mumbai