AS the threat of the ransomware looms all over the world, the Indian Army authorities have issued an advisory on an unrelated malicious email infected with a “data stealing malware” — with an attachment “Deputation of one Army officer to attend Sri Lanka” — which is being received by the personnel of the Indian Army, particularly officers. The officers have been warned against opening this mail.
In November last year, Pune Newsline has reported in detail about how the Army is now pursuing cyber terrorism as a threat which can be even more damaging than the conventional attacks. With almost all sectors — railway networks, communication systems and stock markets, among others — heavily dependent on data communication and storage, experts fear that cyber attack on any of these is capable of causing more damage than the conventional forces. One of the biggest victims of the latest WannaCry ransomware, for example, has been one of Germany’s rail operators.
A senior Army officer from Pune said, “While the Army has a very elaborate cyber security policy, even individual units monitor their own cyber security. The latest advisory, issued on May 13, warns about an email being received from a malicious mail address carrying a tempting attachment — ‘deputation of one Army officer to attend Sri Lanka’. The officers have been warned not to open the mail. This malware is known to be data-stealing software and is capable of stealing vital information in one go. The advisory has been issued to units across India. It must be pointed out that such advisories are issued as and when such threats crop up.”
An Army officer posted at the National Defence Academy (NDA) said, “We have received the advisory from our IT and communication cell. NDA currently goes by cyber security policy of 2016 and such advisories are issued from time to time.”
Talking about cyber warfare during Idea Exchange with The Indian Express editorial staff in April 2016, then Southern Army Commander and current Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had said, “This one form of warfare will keep emerging even further. The adversaries will always try to engage in non-contact warfare, degrade the systems and bring the level of preparedness down. We are aware of the capabilities of our adversaries and so a heavy emphasis is given on cyber security. At this stage, we are focusing on strengthening the systems and having a setup in place to detect all types of threats. We may at times have to shut down parts of a system to ensure that there is no leakage of information. We are cyber ready. Strict actions are taken for any cyber security violation. For example, we have banned pen drives. They might have a malware which can take information out. These are not the best ways, but we have taken these measures in the wake of threats. Computers are checked regularly.”
A senior Army official, who has been working in the field of cyber security, said, “The threat to our cyber security is not just from countries like China and Pakistan, but also from non-state actors like terror groups. And these attacks can come in any form, such as hacking of websites, computer viruses and Trojan attacks.”