The use of USB flash drives is banned in the defence forces. However, that has not deterred it from being the biggest threat to cyber security there. Latest reports reveal that the unauthorised use of pen drives has been responsible for more than 70 percent of security breaches in the three services.
Pen drives offer a convenient and easy-to-carry storage option, and are quite popular. In their statement to PTI, Army officials added, “These pen drives, which are mostly manufactured in China, have emerged as a big threat to our cyber security systems”.
Unauthorised use triggering cyber attacks in defence forces
Reportedly, the Army headquarters has put up a refreshed set of cyber security guidelines, in a bid to protect sensitive military networks from cyber attacks. The three defence forces too have reportedly pulled up their socks on the matter. The Indian Air Force (IAF) recently issued instructions to its personnel warning them against having any official data on their personal computers and pen drives. Further, all IAF personnel have been asked to declare their Information Technology assets. Quoting officials on the matter, the report shared that those found violating these instructions in checks by cyber security personnel will draw strict action, which may even amount to disciplinary action including court martial.
Quoting IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Gerard Galway, reports stated that he confirmed the steps taken by the IAF headquarters to safeguard its cyber assets and secret information.
Generally, officials use pen drives to store official data, which they use later at their personal computers. However, it has been found that when used on their personal computers, the official data gets transmitted from their IP addresses to hackers from the 'malware' present in the pen drives.
A Major posted in Andaman and Nicobar Islands was reportedly apprehended as it was found that sensitive data was being transferred from his computer. Only later it surfaced that the official's system had been hacked and spying viruses were transferring information to other computers. An IAF Junior Warrant officer was also apprehended by officials after he was reportedly found to be in possession of unauthorised CDs carrying official information. The Navy's Eastern Command was also affected after hacker groups were found to be stealing information from its computers there due to malware put in them by external drives.
As part of the efforts to counter cyber attacks, the National Security Council has also been discussing designating certain intelligence agencies under the Defence Ministry for countering cyber offensives against the country.