India’s diplomatic ties with China have been tense lately, and as per the Indian Army, the Chinese have now entered a new battle turf – WhatsApp. In a tweet posted by the official Twitter account of the Additional Directorate General of Public Information, IHQ of Ministry of Defence, the Indian Army has warned the citizens of the Chinese hackers’ attempts to steal data through WhatsApp.
The tweet, posted in Hindi, states that cyber attacks are in full force and that users should be aware of the risk posed by such malicious activities when handling their personal and group accounts on WhatsApp.
सजग रहे,सतर्क रहें,सुरक्षित रहें।#भारतीयसेना सोशल मीडिया उचित एवं नियमबद्ध एकाउंट को प्रोत्साहित करता है। हैकिंग जोरो पर है, उनके लिए जो असावधान हैं। अपने सोशल मीडिया को हमेशा चेक करें। व्यक्तिगत एवं ग्रुप एकाउंट के बारे में सावधान रहें, सुरक्षित रहें। @DefenceMinIndia @PIB_India pic.twitter.com/YQbdVFsmWe
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) March 18, 2018
The tweet is also accompanied by a video which relays the ominous warning about the incursion of Chinese hackers into WhatsApp groups, however, it does not explain the technical details of how the hackers actually invade WhatsApp groups and steal the data.
“WhatsApp is a new medium of hacking The Chinese use all kinds of platforms to penetrate your digital world. WhatsApp groups are a new way of hacking into your system. Chinese numbers starting with +86 barge into your groups and start extracting all the data”, reads the text accompanying the video. Moreover, some general pieces of advice have also been doled out via the video, and they are listed below:
- Start checking your groups and do regular audits.
- All contacts in the group should be saved by their names.
- Scrutinize unknown numbers constantly. If you change your mobile number, inform the group admin.
- Destroy the SIM card if you change the number and delete the WhatsApp on that number.
However, this is not the first time that the Indian Army has warned about the risk of online espionage conducted by the Chinese. Back in November last year, the Indian Army ordered the troops posted on the Indo-China border to delete around 42 apps developed by Chinese firms, and then format their smartphones to minimize security risks. Moreover, popular apps like WeChat and Truecaller were banned with immediate effect for officials, as they were deemed a serious security threat. However, the latest warning from the army seems more like a tactic to scare off threats rather than dealing with an actual incident, since it does not detail how Chinese individuals or hackers are intruding on WhatsApp groups.