Pakistan spies seem to be doing a better than usual job. Last week, the Indian Air Force was tipped off about Pakistan cyber-spies electronically snooping on the personal computers of IAF officers. Hackers recently released the IAF’s Operational Concept Descriptions (OCDs)—describing various wartime operational scenarios with Pakistan—into the public domain.
The IAF immediately launched an inquiry earlier this month to discover the source of the leak. According to sources, an air force officer had gone on the Internet using his personal computer that held the details. IAF authorities were alerted when they came to know of the secret information becoming public after being alerted by an informer in Pakistan. IAF officials, however, denied that any service information was “compromised”. “During a routine check, one personal computer was found to have a concept paper, which got into public domain,” officials added.
A thorough vetting of all official and personal computers in the IAF was done. A strict advisory was issued against storing service information on computers. The sources add that all officers having PCs will now have to sign an undertaking assuring that they would be used according to the rules concerning cyber security.
Cyber security procedures concerning the armed forces stipulate that all service-related information shall be stored on stand-alone computers, which are disallowed Internet connections or pen drives, as these increase the chances of a cyber attack. Following this latest incident, the IAF has again put out an order that “no matter how trivial the information is, it will not be stored on personal computers”.
For the last two-three years, the country’s vital and sensitive organisations have been facing constant cyber threats. Waking up to this additional domain of warfare, the Indian armed forces are mulling a joint cyber command that will act as a bulwark for the Indian defence establishments against the ‘hacking brigades’ prowling for sensitive and strategic information. The Indian Navy has begun recruitment of its exclusive IT brigade. Trained cyber experts would be deployed on board warships and various sensitive establishments on-shore to manage and secure the network in the organisation.
Earlier this year the Indian Navy constituted a Board of Inquiry (BoI) against some of its officers in the Eastern Naval Command whose computers were found to be bugged and official information compromised. Chinese hackers were suspected to be behind the attack. Various strategically important projects, including the construction of the indigenous nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, are underway at Visakhapatnam. The Russian-built nuclear submarine INS Chakra is also based here. In another BoI, four senior navy officials from the technical branch were accused of possessing and leaking classified information through social networking sites.