Subordinate staff in Home Ministry would watch porn, download malware: Ex home secretary

Some staff in the Home Ministry would watch online pornographic content on the internet at work, leading to malware download and compromise of computers, a former Home Secretary recalled on Wednesday.

At the Financial Security Conclave, GK Pillai said when senior ministry officials used to be busy with meetings till late in the evening, the subordinate staff downloaded all kinds of stuff as they would have to stay back in the offices or post-meeting work.

“So what will they (subordinates) do? They go and open the Internet and they are on porn sites and download all sorts of things that come up with all the malware,” said Pillai, who chairs the non-profit Data Security Council of India (DSCI) promoted by Nasscom.

“When I was the Union Home Secretary almost 8-9 years ago, every 60 days we would find the entire computers compromised,” added Pillai, addressing the maiden Finsec Conclave in Mumbai.

He said the ministry issued a lot of directives and it was a detailed review which led to the discovery of porn surfing by the staff.

The comments came days after a suspected compromise of some government websites. The government had later said that the websites had not been hacked, but attributed the problems to a hardware glitch.

Pillai said the DSCI had made a recommendation to make it mandatory for companies’ boards to review cybersecurity and disclose preparedness in the annual report but that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the SEBI and the RBI were sitting on the proposal.

Referring to the Cambridge Analytica revelations that have put social media giant Facebook in a spot, Pillai reminisced that the British company had given a presentation about the same service offerings at a conference in New Delhi two years ago.

Nobody questioned the company then and it is only due to the arrogance of the management which spoke about bribing people that they have come under a spot today, said Pillai.