Alarmed over the rise of WhatsApp ‘honeytraps’, the Indian Army has issued a strict social media advisory for its soldiers. According to Press Trust of India, the Army has strictly told the jawans and officers to refrain from joining ‘open’ WhatsApp groups. "People tend to join different groups. For instance, a school or college group where there could be many participants. One never knows if any participant could be vying for information. There could be someone observing the personnel," the PTI report said while quoting an unnamed source. The latest advisory comes amid reports of Pakistan’s ISI using WhatsApp to access the soldiers and all-crucial military information.
It should be noted that the Indian Army already has a stringent media advisory. The soldiers can’t post anything about troop movement or their postings on their personal; social media accounts. According to an India Today report, the Army fears that the information leaked on such social media groups can be used as propaganda material.
The advisory comes after Indian officials arrested a suspected Pakistani spy near military facilities in Punjab last month. It was during the interrogation of one Sukhwinder Singh Sidhu that agencies got to know about the pattern of spy recruitment. Sidhu was arrested in Punjab’s Faridkot for allegedly spying for Pakistan’s ISI. According to media reports, Sidhu, a resident of Moga used to pass on secret military information to the ISI via WhatsApp.
WhatsApp remains most popular messaging app worldwide. Recently, Sensor Tower released app-related data from its Q1 2019 Data Digest Report. And, the most downloaded app worldwide in the first quarter was WhatsApp with more than 223 million new installs. Messenger was the second-best performing app by downloads worldwide in Q1 2019 with close to 209 million installs. The next highest performing app was TikTok, followed by Facebook and Instagram.
Last year in March, Indian Army’s Additional Directorate General of Public Information had released a video on Twitter alerting people of Chinese hackers. The video showed that WhatsApp groups were the new ways of hacking into one’s system.
According to latest study, India is high on its vulnerability quotient and remains a soft target for malware and ransomware attacks. Reports suggest that India was the third most affected country during the WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017.