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Indian Army warns soldiers: Chinese hackers targeting messenger apps


(G.N.S) Dt. 19
New Delhi
The Chinese are using WhatsApp to hack into systems in India, warns a video posted by the Indian Army on Sunday. The caution comes months after the army warned its soldiers on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) against using apps like WhatsApp over security worries. The Indian Army on Sunday released a video accusing Chinese hackers of targeting users in India via WhatsApp. The video, urging people to use the social messenger application safely, comes about four months after the Army had warned soldiers posted along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) against using a host of applications, including WhatsApp.
The video, urging jawans to be careful while using the social messaging app, comes four months after the Army had warned soldiers posted along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) against using a host of apps, including WhatsApp. The video, a little over a minute long, has been reposted by Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani. Tweeting from the Indian Army’s official handle, the Additional Directorate General of Public Interface (ADGPI) said the Chinese were penetrating the digital world. The warning comes in the background of accusations that Chinese hackers are penetrating into various networks in search of classified information.
“The Chinese use all kinds of platforms to penetrate your digital world. WhatsApp groups are a new way of hacking into your system. Chinese numbers starting with +86 barge into your groups and start extracting all the data,” says the video, tweeted from the army’s official handle.
It asks users to save contacts by name, check all WhatsApp groups and cross-check unknown numbers constantly. “If you change your mobile number, inform the group admin; if you change your SIM card, destroy it completely,” it advises.
Over the past few years some Indian armed forces personnel have been trapped to spy against their homeland. A serving Indian soldier and a serving Air Force pilot have been arrested in 2015 for alleged involvement in espionage activities. While the army man is presently in police/judicial custody and the case is under trial, the pilot has been dismissed from service and is presently under judicial custody.
The video is credited to the army’s ADGPI or Additional Directorate General of Public Interface. “Be alert, be cautious, be safe,” the tweet says.
The Army advised users to be vigilant and urged them to conduct regular audits of their groups to see if any number starting with +86 had joined a group.
“In case you change the SIM, destroy it completely,” the video said. It went to add that information mined from such groups was being leaked to Chinese hackers.
Last year, the army ordered its men on the border with China to format their smartphones and delete or uninstall over 40 apps said to be vulnerable to Chinese hackers.
The army suspects that apps developed by Chinese firms or with Chinese links are spyware and can endanger national security.
The army’s warning video comes months after the two countries ended a lengthy standoff at Doklam, which saw a build-up of Indian and Chinese forces at the border.
In 2017, two army personnel were punished for their involvement in espionage activities. An Air Force pilot was arrested in 2018 and handed over to the civil police for investigation, and is under judicial custody and lodged at Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
Some inimical intelligence agencies have been reported to be allegedly involved in these activities. Service personnel are regularly educated about the modus operandi being adopted by inimical agencies.

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