The Indian Army advisory says WhatsApp is a vulnerable platform and Facebook has turned out to be a crucial source of collecting intelligence.
Special Forces of the Indian Army

Special Forces of the Indian Army
The Indian Army wants its officers holding critical posts to deactivate their Facebook accounts and not use the popular messaging application, WhatsApp, for any official communication.

In an advisory issued last month, the army has cautioned officers holding sensitive posts in all headquarters, divisions and brigades that WhatsApp is a vulnerable platform and so should not be used for any official communication.

It added that although WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, the encryption would cease to be effective if the mobile handset on which it is being used gets compromised.

WhatsApp was recently in the eye of a storm after it admitted that surveillance software called Pegasus — owned by an Israel-based NSO group — had been used to compromise some of its Indian users, including journalists and activists.

The advisory comes after the army cyber group conducted an analysis of social media trends in which it has identified a new set of problems on the ways its personnel use the internet.

The advisory states that the popular social media platform Facebook has turned out to be a crucial source of collecting intelligence, which is why officers holding critical posts in the army must consider deactivating their accounts.

Armed forces personnel and their families have been discouraged from posting their pictures in uniform or photographs of locations that can give out details of sensitive locations on Facebook or other social media apps.

According to the advisory, there have been numerous instances of loss of information through social media — which could well be inadvertent — despite multiple directives issued to army personnel time and again on the threats and implications of using the online medium. A social media policy for the army is already in place since 2016.

The advisory also talks of inimical agencies possessing sophisticated tools for monitoring and analysing data on social media to derive intelligence, underscoring that those holding critical appointments are especially at risk.