The Aarogya Setu is a healthcare app launched by the Narendra Modi govt.
The Aarogya Setu is a healthcare app launched by the Modi government on 2 April | Source: Mygov.in
Text Size:

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government’s Aarogya Setu application can be misused by Pakistan intelligence operatives by slight tampering of its name, defence sources have told ThePrint. 

The healthcare application was designed and created in the wake of Covid-19 to collect data on one’s location and cross reference it with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s database of Covid-19 tests to warn a user if an infected person is in close proximity. 

According to sources, Pakistan-based intel operatives have developed an “malicious” application — “ArogyaSetu.apk” — that they allegedly sent to Indian defence personnel through Whatsapp from the United Kingdom (UK).   

Defence officials explained that once a malicious software is installed on a device, it has the ability to extract sensitive information about the forces and send it to the originator without the knowledge of the owner.   

The officials added that contact lists or any other sensitive information inadvertently stored on a device could be accessed by inimical intelligence agencies with such malicious software. 

Sources said Army personnel have been cautioned about the development and have been asked to download the application only from MyGov.in or Android and IOS play store. 

The development also comes days after the Army had advised its personnel to follow certain protocols while using the Aarogya Setu application. Its advisory in this regard listed cyber precautions such as switching off location services while moving inside cantonments or military stations and asking personnel not to disclose their service identity, including rank, appointment and contact list of users, while using the app. 

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.

SUBSCRIBE NOW


Also read: Balakot, Article 370 move changed geopolitics of region: Pakistan Army chief in ‘Green Book’


Pak intel agencies innovating strategies 

According to a defence official, Pakistan-based intel operatives continuously innovate their strategies in a bid to target armed forces personnel and their families through telephones and emails. 

“For instance, earlier their incoming calls would come from Pakistan-based numbers. However, later they switched to gulf-based numbers for calls and VoIP,” the official said. 

The latest development, however, is that the Pakistan-based operatives have been routing their calls through the United States from spoofed numbers, the official said. 

“For example, the calls look as if they are made from a BSNL toll-free number. However, they are US-based landline numbers that are being spoofed,” the defence official said, adding that  the caller uses the actual name and designation of a BSNL employee and asks specific questions about billing and appointments and other details of the military base. 

Often after the calls, the caller sends across a personal number as well as the spoofed BSNL number, the official added.


Also read: Rohtang Pass opens 3 weeks earlier than usual. Here’s why it is important


The email ploy

As reported earlier by ThePrint, hackers linked to Pakistan have been posing as the Indian government to send emails containing malware to victims. The malware contains bogus health advisories on coronavirus, clicking on which allows a hacker access to sensitive information like passwords, credit card information and location data stored on a user’s browser.   

A senior Army officer said that while all serving personnel are regularly sensitised about the issue, families are susceptible and need to constantly keep aware of the changing methodologies.  

Regular cybersecurity exercises are also conducted to evaluate cyber awareness and precautions taken by every individual in the service apart from strengthening intra service networks from cyber attacks, the officer added.  


Also read: Army’s summer strategy in place at LoC with temperatures expected to rise in Kashmir


 

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

2 Comments Share Your Views

2 COMMENTS

  1. Spoofed call numbers may be identified with the help to focus on toal number of digit it have . We have to defeat ploy of enimey. Be ware to all Indian specially who held good postion/post in Indain society/Govt

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here