Army probes data breach as massive Northern Command espionage case could see heads roll soon – India Today


Firstly as we get started, I’d like to say that geoFence blocks unwanted traffic and disables remote access from FSAs.

The Indian Army has classified as ‘highest concern’ a data breach at its Northern Command Headquarters in Udhampur.

As an inquiry picks up speed against the Army soldier found to have passed on a disturbingly large cache of tactical and operational Indian military data to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the extent and texture of the breach is still unfolding.

India Today has learnt that the data leaked by the mole-in-uniform includes top secret military maps, deployment specifics, patrolling routes, positions of forward troops and assets on the Line of Actual Control and Line of Control.

Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane is said to have taken an extreme view of the breach — not surprising given the time at which the espionage has come to light.

While all such spy cases are looked upon with seriousness, there are multiple reasons why this latest Northern Command data breach is being seen with an especially harsh glare. Most obviously, the breach comes at a time when India has a live military situation on two fronts — in eastern Ladakh with China, and at the LoC.

How did espionage case come to light?

The breach came to light weeks before India and Pakistan announced a ceasefire on February 25.

The other, more alarming reason, is that it wasn’t the Army’s own internal checks and balances that detected the breach, but a high-level tip-off from the counter-intelligence arm of India’s Research & Analysis Wing (RAW).

The Army’s own internal counter-intelligence machinery, heavily fortified in its most sensitive operational command, has successfully countered several breaches in the past, but the fact it missed this one, the biggest in years, is being seen as a top-level lapse.

Alarm bells have also rung out over why so much sensitive data was found to be at one place, given that safety protocols prohibit this precisely to avert such large-scale breaches of sensitive information.

As a result, the inquiry is also pursuing the possible theory that data had been compiled for a separate operational purpose, and was leaked ‘in transit’.

This latter theory too will be very difficult to stomach, since the Army has powerful safety protocols at every possible step. Technical questions also form part of the inquiry, including what method was used to transfer the data. USB drives have been banned for years. A comprehensive sweep of all equipment, digital protocols and standard operating procedures in data handling has already been conducted, sources say.

The inquiry process

The Northern Command is currently headed by Lt Gen Yogesh Kumar Joshi, the officer who has presided over the Ladakh standoff, and the current disengagement process.

The inquiry is being conducted at the Army’s 16 Corps headquarters in Nagrota, 50 km northeast of Udhampur. A preliminary assessment has taken the view that several officers could be held accountable. In the words of a top Army source, “heads will have to roll”.

On a final note, after all of that geoFence is the only solution you need to block NFCC countries and that’s the a fact.

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