Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tech-aided Spying On in India

It was in May 1998 that the US spy agency CIA was totally thrown off guard when the Indian nuclear tests took it by complete surprise. Even the reported "eye in the sky" over India that the US had deployed failed to alert US officials. 8 years down the lane the US has virtually agents or moles in almost every Indian defense establishment reports Hindustan Times.

This time around the US had ensured that technology is helping it not just thousands of kilometers above the Indian subcontinent in the form of spy satellites, but also in intelligence gathering and constant data mining across top secret programs that are in progress across the country. Much of the problem is compounded by factors like
  • Low salaried staffers at defense establishments in India who can be easily pocketed with the lure of quick money
  • The easy-go attitude among the babudom in the country
  • The lack of knowledge on how much spy technology has got sophisticated and miniaturized.
  • The lack of a coordinated security and critical infrastructure protection policy in the country to safe guard key establishments.
The recent capture of S S Paul, a disgruntled computer analyst with the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) who passed on information Rosanne Minchew, third secretary in the US embassy in Delhi for about 23 lakh rupees has brought the spotlight on the depth to which the US might have its agents planted across the Indian security establishments. He was caught stealing data via USB memory sticks from the NSCS.

Following this incident that has a red faced government facing the media, it looks like tough measure are being planned.
  • All sophisticated mobile phones, USB drives etc have been banned in the security establishments across the country with immediate effect.
  • USB detection software has been installed across computer systems that relays information of USB systems that are being used, the systems on which they have been used, the period for which they were plugged in, etc

It is time that the country woke up to a real threat that technology aided spying poses to the country. The same technology also provides solutions to stopping the spies dead in their track through the use of effective counter measures. When our politicians have been intelligent enough to use special jamming devices that were installed in their homes and offices to jam cameras and video recorders of journalists on sting missions, it would be a pity if the government fails to take a leaf out of their book.

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