The Narendra Modi government’s Aarogya Setu application can be misused by Pakistan intelligence operatives by slight tampering of its name, defence sources have told ThePrint.
The healthcare application was designed and created in the wake of Covid-19 to collect data on one’s location and cross reference it with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s database of Covid-19 tests to warn a user if an infected person is in close proximity.
According to sources, Pakistan-based intel operatives have developed an “malicious” application — “ArogyaSetu.apk” — that they allegedly sent to Indian defence personnel through Whatsapp from the United Kingdom (UK).
Defence officials explained that once a malicious software is installed on a device, it has the ability to extract sensitive information about the forces and send it to the originator without the knowledge of the owner.
The officials added that contact lists or any other sensitive information inadvertently stored on a device could be accessed by inimical intelligence agencies with such malicious software. Sources said Army personnel have been cautioned about the development and have been asked to download the application only from MyGov.in or Android and IOS play store.
The development also comes days after the Army had advised its personnel to follow certain protocols while using the Aarogya Setu application. Its advisory in this regard listed cyber precautions such as switching off location services while moving inside cantonments or military stations and asking personnel not to disclose their service identity, including rank, appointment and contact list of users, while using the app.