New Delhi: The Army has developed an in-house WhatsApp-like messaging application called ‘Secure Application for Internet (SAI)’ for its personnel, to dodge the threat of sensitive military communications getting leaked to enemy agencies.
The messaging application has been developed by the Army’s Corps of Signals, which handles military communication.
According to an Army statement, the application supports secure voice, text and video-calling services for Android platforms over the internet. The app is end-to-end encrypted. The statement said its security edge is bolstered by local servers and coding that can be tweaked as per requirements.
The application has been vetted by an auditor empanelled by CERT-in — the government’s Indian Computer Emergency Response Team — and the Army Cyber Group, which handles online operations for the force.
The process for patent, hosting the infrastructure on National Informatics Centre (NIC) — which provides information and communications technology and e-governance support to the government — and making it compatible with the iOS platform is currently in progress, the Army said.
For security reasons
A senior Army officer said the servers of most of the popular messaging apps are based outside India, which could pose a security risk when it comes to sensitive military communication.
“With a local app and in-house servers, critical messages can be securely sent without any fear of getting leaked,” the officer said.
In June, the Army had come up with an updated list of 89 applications — many of which were developed in China — to be banned for use by service personnel. These included social media applications, such as TikTok, WeChat, SHAREit, Zoom, CamScanner, PUBG and Truecaller, besides Facebook and Instagram.
While military communications mostly take place on secure intranet networks for all three services, they have limitations in terms of connectivity from different locations.
The Army is restricted to landlines, except in areas of Jammu & Kashmir, where there is secure limited mobile connectivity.
The IAF uses AFNET mobile phones, but the range is limited to IAF stations. The Navy also has a secure intranet system for calling, which is based on landlines.
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