MIB tells officials not to share secret documents through internet-based services

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued a notice ordering its agents/officials not to share secret documents on the internet. The notice was issued in order to limit the leakage of classified information and the misuse of these platforms.

The ministry observed that many government officials use private messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram for the communication of classified information. This practice, he said, is a clear violation of information security instructions in the Department Security Instruction Manual (MoDSI) and National Information Security Policy Guidelines (NISPG). .

The notice states that Top Secret and Secret documents should not be shared on the Internet. “According to the NISPG, top secret and secret information should only be shared within a closed network with leased-line connectivity where the SAG-grade encryption mechanism is deployed. However, confidential and restricted information may be shared over the Internet via networks that have deployed commercial AES 256-bit encryption.”

In addition, the ministry recommended the use of government messaging (NIC) or government instant messaging platforms (such as CDAC’s Samvad, NIC’s Sandesh, etc.) for the communication of confidential and restricted information. .

“However, the utmost care should be taken when classifying information and before communicating it on the Internet. Information that may merit a Top Secret/Secret classification should not be downgraded to Confidential/Restricted for the purpose of share information over the Internet,” the notice reads.

In the context of the e-Office system, he advised to deploy appropriate firewalls and a whitelist of IP addresses. “The ‘e-Office server’ is accessible via a virtual private network (VPN) for enhanced security. Care should be taken to ensure that only authorized employees are allowed to access the e-Office system. However, Top Secret information /Secret should be shared on the e-Office system only with a closed leased line network and SAG level encryption mechanism.”

He recommended the use of government video conferencing (VC) solutions offered by CDAC, C-DOT and NIC in the context of VC for official purposes. “The meeting ID and password should only be shared with authorized participants. To ensure better security, the “Waiting Room” function and pre-registration of participants can be used. Even in In this case, Top Secret and Secret information should not be shared during the VC.”

Public servants working from home may use secure electronic devices (such as laptops, desktops, etc.) these devices may be connected devices (such as laptops, desktops, etc.). These devices, he said, can be connected to servers in the office through a VPN and firewall setup. “It is pertinent to mention that Top Secret/Secret information should not be shared in the ‘work from home’ environment,” the notice reads.

The ministry also suggested that digital assistive devices such as Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s HomePod, Google Home, etc. are not kept in the office. “In addition, digital assistants (such as Alexa, Siri, etc.) must be disabled in smartphones/watches used by the employee. Smartphones may be dropped outside the meeting room when discussing on classified matters.”

In view of the above, it is suggested that all division heads ensure compliance with the aforementioned guidelines in the interests of communications security, the notice states.

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