Indian Navy has reportedly banned all the personnel from using social media platform Facebook after seven officials, who were allegedly honey-trapped, were found leaking sensitive information to Pakistan’s intelligence agencies online.
ANI reported that in an order issued on December 27, the Indian navy has banned the personnel from using any messaging, networking, blogging, content sharing and hosting and ecommerce websites as well to avoid such situations in the future.
The development comes after eight people, which included seven navy personnel and one Hawala operator from Mumbai, were arrested on December 20 from Visakhapatnam.
The Andhra Pradesh police, in partnership with the central agency, had launched a special joint operation, Operation Dolphin’s Nose, to uncover the same. According to reports, eight individuals have been arrested from different parts of the country.
Media reports highlight that out of the seven Navy officials, three sailors belonged to Eastern Naval Command of Visakhapatnam, which is an important strategic location. Whereas three others belonged to Western Naval Command and one was posted at Karwar naval base of Karnataka.
This is not just one instance, there have been several other instances where officials have been duped in similar honey-traps. If reports are to be believed, Pakistani intelligence and other organisations usually create fake accounts on social media and befriend Indian soldiers, their family members and retired army personnel to know more about the Indian defence strategies and the technology they rely on.
Recently, the Home Ministry has also reportedly cautioned Indian defence forces saying that Pakistan intelligence agency ISI has been planning a big trap to get security force personnel talking.
In November 2019, the army had also cautioned officials against 150 fake social media profiles that are looking to honey-trap Indian soldiers. An official told ET. “the profiles are generally 2-3 years old. So, they do not raise suspicion and appear to be authentic. It is then that they started targeting,” the official said.
Around the same time, the Indian army’s advisory board had also banned all social media and messaging apps like Facebook and Whatsapp to prevent leakages of sensitive information. However, this was amidst the Pegasus spyware attack through WhatsApp that was used to spy on 121 Indian citizens.
The Indian army also conducted an analysis of social media trends before banning social media. The Indian army claimed that social media platforms have the potential to gather intelligence, and can pose a threat to the army personnel families and friends.
As a safety precaution, the army officials and their families have been advised to stop posting their pictures in uniform or photographs of their locations on these social media platforms.