Government asks employees not to send classified information via messaging apps and calls for increased security

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Amid frequent violations of national communications guidelines and government guidelines aimed at preventing leaks of classified information, the Center issued a revised disclosure advisory formulated by intelligence agencies after reviewing shortcomings in the current system.

According to the sources, the new communication guidelines instructed all government officials not to use WhatsApp, Telegram, etc., to share confidential information because the servers of these applications are controlled by private companies abroad and the information may be misused by some anti – Indian forces. They also said officials working from home should only use electronic office apps for communication.

The revised guidelines also instructed officials to stop sharing secret information or documents through the home setup during WFH, and home systems must be connected to the office network through the National Computing Center’s Virtual Private Network (NIC ) uniquely.

All departments have been urged to take “urgent action” to prevent such breaches and to strictly follow communications security policies and guidelines when handling confidential or restricted communications.

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“No classified or secret documents should be stored in official mobile sets and should not be shared with any government official via mobile, as the servers of new communication applications are privately owned and may create a significant risk to national security and other related issues,” a senior official familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity.

The new communication standards, circulated to all ministries, departments and senior officials of the union, were instructed not to use smartwatches or smartphones during meetings to discuss classified matters or matters related to national security. They were also advised not to use various desktop assistant devices like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple HomePod, etc.

The new guidelines also detailed standards for virtual meetings, which have become a new norm amid Covid-19 over the past two years. He also ordered officials not to hold virtual meetings on private apps such as Google Meet or the Zoom app and instead use video conferencing solutions put in place by the Department of Advanced Computing (C-DAC ), National Informatics Center (NIC) as well as mandatory-use passwords to access the chat room and lobby facilities.

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