Home Army Technology Govt looking into reports that China tracking 10,000 Indians via ‘hybrid warfare’ firm – ThePrint

Govt looking into reports that China tracking 10,000 Indians via ‘hybrid warfare’ firm – ThePrint

11 min read
0
9

The Chinese national emblem and flags are displayed above the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China | Representational image | Photo: Giulia Marchi | Bloomberg

Text Size:

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government, it is learnt, is looking into reports that a Chinese data firm that pioneers in “hybrid warfare” and is linked to the country’s administration tracked over 10,000 Indian nationals, including leading personalities like PM Modi and interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, as well as their families. 

Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that the government has taken note of a report published Monday in The Indian Express, as part of an international expose, that suggests China may be employing hybrid warfare — using non-military measures to gain an edge over rivals — against India. 

The Express report comes as India and China remain engaged in a tense border stand-off in eastern Ladakh, which began with Chinese incursions in May.

The report is centred on one firm, Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co. Limited, which reportedly counts the Chinese government and military among its clients.

“Scraping information from the web and social media platforms, tracking research papers, articles, patents, recruitment positions, Zhenhua’s monitoring services map what it calls person information and relationship mining – networks among individuals, institutions and organisations, and changes in their leadership positions based on information from multiple sources,” the Express said in its report.

The report is based on metadata from the firm “obtained through a network of researchers from a source connected to the company based in Shenzhen City in Guangdong province, south-east China”.

The details also included data from other countries.

Speaking to ThePrint, sources made light of the report, saying access to open-source intelligence does not mean secrets are compromised.

“We have seen the media report on this. The report talks about open-source intelligence and this is something which many firms and agencies do. Tracking individual statements or social media presence does not mean secrets are compromised,” a source said.

A second source claimed that all issues of national security, including communication, are dealt with through various encrypted devices and channels.

A third source reiterated the claim.

“Open source is not an issue. The issue comes when someone is tracking the IP address or getting information from the use of Chinese phones. This is a fear that has always been there and, hence, necessary directions were issued against use of certain Chinese products, including mobile phones.” 

National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC) Lt General (Dr) Rajesh Pant told ThePrint: “That is why we banned 224 apps! Even though the data collected is from Open Sources, it can be used for influence operations after profiling. Any intelligence operation against the nation is a matter of concern, although in this there is no loss of classified information.”


Also Read: Why LAC could end up like LoC with more Indian Army deployment after China tensions ease


‘Not a matter of great concern’

Another set of sources in the government said open-source information is sourced by all countries, and this development is not a matter of great concern.

“The focus as of today has been the Parliament session, which began today. Relevant people will look into it,” a fourth source said.

Sources in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said countries have been collecting data on Indians for a while.

“During (American whistleblower Edward) Snowden issue, it also came to light that a surveillance programme was collecting data on India,” said a source. “While there has been no breach, India continues to strengthen its cybersecurity and infrastructure through a personal data protection law framework, and a revamping of India’s cybersecurity policy through the National Cyber Security Strategy 2020.”  

Gulshan Rai, the former coordinator for National Cyber Security, said he wasn’t “surprised at all by the news”. 

“The MSS (Ministry of State Security) of PRC (People’s Republic of China) as well as a branch of the SSF (Strategic Support Force) of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are actively engaged in collecting and analysing data worldwide. The entire work is carried out through non-state actors, which certainly include companies based in China with connectivity in different countries,” he said. 

“Normally, one of the techniques is to outsource the work of camouflaging as IT services to a company of the respective country.”


Also Read: ‘Words need to turn into action’ — soldiers not impressed by China peace talk with Jaishankar


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How 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 have just turned three.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it.

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 ThePrint’s future.

Support Our Journalism


Let’s block ads! (Why?)


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

India vs China: Indian Army and People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) Compared – Army Technology

The Indian Army has the world’s largest ground force, currently comprising 1.4 million per…