Indian Army fears that foreign intelligence may be using WhatsApp to profile its officers

Indian Army fears that foreign intelligence may be using WhatsApp to profile its officers
Indian Army issues new regulation for WhatsApp and other social media usageBCCL

  • The Indian Army has issued new directives to its officers to limit the usage of WhatsApp and social media platforms.
  • The Army claims that WhatsApp is being used a method for foreign intelligence agencies to profile officers and their families.
  • Family members of Indian Army officers have also been asked to remove references to serving members and photos of officers in uniform from social media.
The Indian Army has issued new guidelines for its officers and their social media usage. The news comes after reports of Pakistani intelligence using these platforms to profile Army officers and their families.

They've asked officers to be en guard for unknown phone numbers on WhatsApp groups and third party contacts in Facebook communities who might try and gain sensitive information about movements of official forces.

The two page directive issued to the 1.3 million officers of the Army advises them against joining large WhatsApp groups and communities on other social media platforms, where the identity of many of the participants in unknown.
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Even families of the Army officers have been advised to remove all references to serving members and remove photos of officers in uniform from their profiles.

In order to make sure that these guidelines are met, the Army has said that they can spot check mobile phones and other personal devices at any time. Violation of regulations that leads to the leakage of sensitive information could result in the court martial of the officers responsible.

Foreign threat

In the past, foreign intelligence operatives have reportedly used ‘honey traps’ to lure in officers with fake social media profiles guised as women to extract sensitive information.

More recently, a senior officer within the Army was blackmailed to click on a malware link. The email threatened the officer with leaking a video of his daughter should he fail to follow instructions.

"Enemy intelligence operatives are keeping a close watch on the Whatsapp groups and trying to profile our officers and their families. They have even managed to enter some Whatsapp groups and quietly monitor conversations between officers," Army sources told ANI.

Just last month, detectives with the Uttar Pradesh Police and Military Intelligence (MI) found Pakistani spy bots trying to hack into over 98 official computer system from defence forces and organisations in India — including the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force, paramilitary forces and state police.

They were able to determine that the perpetrator went by ‘Sejal Kapoor’ on Facebook and used spy apps called ‘Whisper’ and ‘Gravity Rat’ to try and access official accounts.

While Army asserts that this is a move to keep information safe, some feel that its a measure designed to curb criticism of the Army and limit the free exchange of views between active Army officers and veterans — like conversations around tax disability pensions.

See also:
The Indian government wants to build its own WhatsApp for official communication

WhatsApp can sue you for sending bulk messages

WhatsApp hack: Indian government calls it an issue of 'national cybersecurity'