Army major’s computer hacked; classified data may have been leaked


NEW DELHI: Some classified data of the tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) is likely to have leaked after an Army major’s personal computer was accessed by online espionage agents, possibly from Pakistan, a couple of months ago.

Even as the military intelligence directorate’s counter-espionage `B Wing’ finalises its investigation into the “security breach”, the Army on Thursday strongly denied that the major has been taken into custody for spying for Pakistan.

“It’s a case of computer hacking by an external agency. The matter is still under investigation, with the computer’s hard disc being analysed by the forensic lab in Hyderabad,” said a senior officer.

“However, there is no evidence to suggest an espionage case so far. After being questioned, the officer is back on duty with his parent unit in Port Blair. He was never taken into custody,” he added.

But there is no denying the fact that the major, who belongs to 21 Bihar Regiment battalion working under the 108 Infantry Brigade deployed in the archipelago, had stored classified information on his computer, which was linked to the internet, in clear violation of orders not to do so.

“Cyber-security rules have certainly been flouted. Action will be taken if the detailed forensic examination of the major’s computer hard disc shows he had stored some classified stuff on it,” admitted another officer.

Indian authorities were alerted about the episode by the US after some intercepts showed the picture of a brigadier, on a training course in the US, being dispatched to Pakistan from the computer of a user based in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

This, of course, is not the first time officers have been found guilty of being negligent in handling classified documents. In recent times, for instance, even a colonel has been court-martialled for negligence in handling documents with crucial operational details about the Tezpur-based 4 Corps, which eventually reached the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi.

China, too, has made cyber-warfare one of its topmost military priorities, with Chinese hackers regularly breaking into sensitive computer networks in India, apart from those of countries like US, UK and Germany.

Incidentally, around a dozen armed forces personnel have been convicted and dismissed from service after they were found guilty of espionage in the last three-four years.

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