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Updated: March 5, 2013 23:21 IST

Was the NSG spooked by ISI?

Sandeep Joshi
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NSG forensic team ferrets out clues at the bomb blast site at Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad. File photo.
The Hindu Photo Library
NSG forensic team ferrets out clues at the bomb blast site at Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad. File photo.

A day after the questioning of a Home Ministry employee for having links with an alleged ISI spy, yet another suspected case of Pakistan’s intelligence service trying to break into India’s critical security network has come to light. The elite National Security Guard (NSG) has initiated an inquiry into a suspected ISI agent calling up its officer to get details of investigations into the recent twin blasts in Hyderabad.

The NSG has claimed that its officer, a Major on deputation from the Army, did not share any crucial information with the ISI agent, who had called the EPBX system at NSG’s headquarters here. Significantly, the caller, reportedly from Pakistan, who identified himself as an officer of India’s Military Intelligence unit, had asked for the Major by name and got details about the movement of the ‘Black Cats’ to Dilsukhnagar where the blasts took place. NSG sources denied sharing information about the nature of explosives or the probe with the suspected agent.

As per standard operation procedure, such information cannot be shared on unsecured lines (EPBX or general exchange) and only secured lines can be used for such critical purposes and information shared only after thorough crosschecks.

But this incident has brought back to the limelight the demand by intelligence and investigative agencies to block or allow restricted use of Internet telephony, a project which is being pursued by the Department of Telecom to improve Internet penetration in the country. Indian intelligence agencies have already sounded alerts over the misuse of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or Internet telephony by terrorists and ISI agents from Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

MHA sources said security agencies have found that terrorists operating from Kashmir and Pakistan are using this technology; and with the State police and the telecom department not having the wherewithal to crack such calls, the problem is only getting aggravated. Security agencies are worried as it is difficult to ascertain the time and origin place of a VoIP call immediately. It is all the more difficult if the call is made from abroad, particularly when a call is made from an unregistered user.

Meanwhile, the Home Ministry said it has eliminated over 30 ISI-backed spy modules and 48 spies in the last three years. Since 2010 till February 2013, 31 espionage modules have been neutralised throughout the country resulting in the arrest of 38 Indians and 10 Pakistani spies.

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It is absurd to blame technology when the lapse was clearly due to the lack of application of common sense in the matter of validating the bona fide of the caller.

More alarming than the call itself, is the absense of a simple and robust system of safeguarding information in situations where the identity of the seeker can be held in doubt.

Does not the recent and sad case of the Indian-born British nurse who committed suicide after answering a prank call made by a reckless duo impersonating the family of the patient, hold a lesson for all, and in particular, the security agencies of a nation?

from:  Sridhar S
Posted on: Mar 5, 2013 at 22:50 IST

haha, VoIP to blame.. As a security agency they should have done study of possible consequences of this technology. To me it looked like failure of training. This was simple socially engineered call not a high tech hacking scandal. VoIP to blame..

from:  Chinmay
Posted on: Mar 5, 2013 at 20:21 IST

Blaming the VoIP squarely is unprecedented. The officer concerned should have verified the call before answering.How did the caller get the concerned officer's phone number is to be probed.There should be a mechanism by which such calls be routed through intelligence and only genuine calls be answered.For this the officers should be restrained to use their personal telephones while on duty.Our intelligence need sprucing up.

from:  K.Sugavanam
Posted on: Mar 5, 2013 at 19:18 IST
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