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Army officers ‘targeted’ by Pak operatives asked to change WhatsApp settings

The army recently issued an advisory to its men alerting them about the risk of being automatically added to WhatsApp groups created by intelligence operatives from the neighbouring country Pakistan.

The Indian Army has asked its personnel to alter the settings of popular messaging service WhatsApp to rule out the possibility of being added to groups run by the Pakistani intelligence to gather sensitive information about the force, two Army officials familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity on Friday.

The army recently issued an advisory to its men alerting them about the risk of being automatically added to WhatsApp groups created by intelligence operatives from the neighbouring country, after a soldier reported that he was added to one such group without his consent, said one of the officials cited above.

Officers holding critical appointments have been asked not to share any information on the messaging service, said the second official cited above. Also, they have been told not to share any official communication on WhatsApp.

“A case has come to notice wherein one army pers (personnel) was automatically added to a Whatsapp gp by a suspected Pak No…The indl (individual) with presence of mind took the screenshot and exited the gp,” the advisory read.

The development showed that Pakistani operatives were “actively targeting” Army personnel, the advisory said.

The advisory details how Army personnel can change their WhatsApp settings to avoid being added to “unauthorized and undesirable groups.”

The Indian Army regularly sensitizes its officers and men on the use of social media and messaging services so that sensitive information is not inadvertently leaked, according to the second official. While protocols were in place to pre-empt any breach, it was critical to drive home the message to soldiers to stay alert, he added.

Former army vice-lieutenant general AS Lamba (retd) said, “As far as the armed forces are concerned, security is paramount no matter what the platform. One needs to be specially careful on social media and messaging services as these are the easiest way to subvert an individual or group of individuals in order to collate sensitive information.”

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