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

The ministry has recommended use of government email facility or government instant messaging platforms for the communication of confidential and restricted information

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Feb 19, 2022 8:37 AM  | 3 min read

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued an advisory directing its officers/officials not to share secret documents over the internet. The advisory has been issued in order to curtail the leakage of classified information and misuse of such platforms.

The ministry observed that many government officials are using private messaging platforms like WhatsApp, and Telegram for communication of classified information. This practice, it said, is clear violation of information security instruction in manual of Departmental Security instructions (MoDSI) and National Information Security Policy Guidelines (NISPG).

The advisory states that the Top Secret and Secret documents shall not be shared over the internet. "According to NISPG, the Top Secret and Secret information shall be shared only in a closed network with leased line connectivity where SAG grade encryption mechanism is deployed. However, Confidential and Restricted information can be shared on internet through networks that have deployed commercial AES 256-bit encryption."

Further, the ministry has recommended the use of Government Email (NIC email) facility or Government Instant Messaging Platforms (such as CDAC's Samvad, NIC's Sandesh, etc.) for the communication of Confidential and Restricted information.

"However, utmost care should be taken during the classification of information and before the communication of the same over internet. The information which may deserve a Top Secret/Secret classification shall not be downgraded to Confidential/Restricted for the purpose of sharing the information over the internet," the advisory states.

In the context of e-Office System, it has advised that proper firewalls and whitelisting of IP addressed are to be deployed. "The 'e-Office server' may be accessed through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for enhanced security. It is to be ensured that only authorized employees are allowed access to the e-Office System. However, Top Secret/Secret information shall be shared over the e-Office system only with leased line closed network and SAG grade encryption mechanism."

It has recommended use of government Video Conferencing (VC) solutions offered by CDAC, C-DOT and NIC in the context of VC for official purpose. "The meeting ID and password shall be shared only with authorized participants. To ensure better security, the 'Waiting Room' facility and prior registration of the participants may be used. Even then, Top Secret and Secret information shall not be shared during the VC."

Officials working from home may use security-hardened electronic devices (such as laptops, desktops, etc.) such devices may be connected devices (such as laptops, Desktops, etc.). Such devices, it said, may be connected to the office servers through a VPN and firewall setup. "It is pertinent to mention that Top Secret/Secret information shall not be shared in the 'work from home' environment," the advisory states.

The ministry also suggested that digital assistant devices like Amazon's Echo, Apple's HomePod, Google Home, etc. may not be kept in office. "Further, Digital Assistants (such as Alexa, Siri, etc.) should be turned off in the smartphones/watches used by the employee. Smartphones may bc deposited outside the meeting room during discussion on classified issues."

In view of the above, all divisional heads are hereby suggested to ensure compliance to the above-mentioned guidelines in the interest of communication security, the advisory states.



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