Defence ministry looking into data leak by naval officers

Defence ministry looking into data leak by naval officers

indian naval officersNEW DELHI: The defence ministry has sought details of the probe against four naval officers in the dock for allegedly divulging classified information and data on social networking and other websites.

The recently-concluded Board of Inquiry (BoI) at the Western Naval Command in Mumbai has recommended strong action against the four commander-rank officers (equivalent to Lt-Colonels in Army) from the naval technical branch.The “punishments”, however, would have to be “approved” by higher authorities. Dismissal from service, for instance, has to be approved by the defence ministry.

Naval intelligence sleuths had tracked the conduct of the four officers for quite some time before finally moving in to stop the leak of confidential information, which even reportedly included location of warships and their patrolling patterns, on sites like Facebook, as reported by TOI earlier.The government has reasons to be worried about the present case since the CBI investigation into the infamous Navy war-room leak case of 2005-06 had held that as many as 7,000 pages of classified information from the naval war-room and IAF HQ air defence directorate were “compromised” in the episode.

The case had created waves after it was discovered that some classified data stored in computers in the naval war-room in South Block had been stolen to help some arms dealers. It had eventually led to the sacking of three naval officers and an IAF officer.The armed forces have been regularly issuing directives to their personnel to strictly refrain from putting sensitive information and service-related matters, like location of units or deployment patterns, on social networking sites.

Instructions are also in place to be extremely careful in the use of computer and digital storage devices after intelligence alerts pointed to an increase in leakage of classified data from defence establishments through the use of pen drives, removable hard disks, CDs, VCDs and the like.Chinese and Pakistani online espionage agents have also being hacking into Indian computer systems over the last several years. For instance, an Army major’s personal computer, on which he had stored around 2,000 classified and sensitive documents, was hacked from Pakistan last year. – TOI