After the arrest of a scientist for allegedly leaking sensitive information, India’s military research agency Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) issued a cybersecurity advisory asking its employees to adhere to strict cybersecurity measures.
The DRDO advisory also urged employees to limit social media and not take calls from unknown numbers.
What does the DRDO advisory say?
“After the arrest of senior scientist Pradeep Kurulkar, we have issued a strong advisory to all our personnel to maintain cyber discipline like not taking calls from unknown numbers or foreign numbers,” a senior DRDO official told ANI news.
“We have been issuing advisories and holding lectures by experts on maintaining cyber discipline but this incident has happened.”
The DRDO advisory stressed the need to lessen the use of social media to avoid interacting with strangers and falling prey to enemy intelligence operatives.
This was because several attempts have been made to lure individual officers by such operatives from outside the country, on WhatsApp.
DRDO issues advisory after the arrest of Pradeep Kurulkar
The senior DRDO scientist Pradeep Kurulkar, 59, was arrested on 3 May upon receiving a complaint from Col Pradeep Rana who is from the DRDO’s vigilance wing.
Rana filed a complaint against Kurulkar at the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) for being involved in suspicious activities.
“We received a letter from Rana about Kurulkar. It said the DRDO had carried out an internal investigation and found that Kurulkar was involved in suspicious activity,” ATS Pune unit head Tushar Doshi said, according to a report in The Week.
The story of Zara Das Gupta and espionage against India
A Pakistani operative who called themselves Zara Das Gupta got in touch with Kurulkar via email a year ago and sent audio and video messages to him.
Zara claimed to be a patriotic Indian who admired his work, however, did not reveal much about her identity except that she was a London resident.
Kurulkar was arrested and is in jail for allegedly sharing defense secrets. The ATS said that several suspicious emails were sent to the accused raising concerns over the security of India.
Investigations of his seized laptop and mobile devices are underway. The ATS found a Pakistani IP address associated in Kurulkar’s case.
Kurulkar also met some unidentified women at the DRDO guest house, the ATS stated.
Since, Kurulkar worked as the laboratory director at the DRDO, which is one of the confidential research wings of the organization, his meeting with individuals outside of the organisation in office premises can lead to security threats.
The internal inquiry was conducted in February by the DRDO after receiving an alert from the Central Intelligence Agency regarding the Pakistani IP address.
The details of Zara, who was allegedly using an Indian mobile number, are yet to be ascertained. A message on Kurulkar’s device from Zara’s number read, “Why have you blocked me?” Kurulkar told the ATS that he had blocked the person, which is why she was suspected of using another number to message him.
“Right now the ATS is looking for remand. This is all based on electronic evidences. After the remand is over, I will compile everything and study this further,” Kurulkar’s lawyer, advocate Rhishikesh Ganu told ThePrint.
“Now we have to investigate the nature of the information passed. How sensitive is the information needs to be determined,” Tushar Doshi, superintendent of police, Maharashtra ATS told ThePrint.
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