The Indian government is issuing advisories to all central government ministers to not use 'third party' apps and services for hosting sensitive meetings via video conferencing. Instead, ministers across a wide range of departments have been advised to use the official video conferencing (VC) services offered by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), top government sources told News18. They further stated that the advisory informed ministers that privately run third party video conferencing tools are often built on Java-based software, and often, the software source codes are hosted online in public domain, thereby making them prone to hacking.
As a result, this security threat may make sensitive meetings vulnerable to being hacked into. The NIC VC services, which are being recommended by the government to all ministers, is one of India's largest official video conferencing networks, available in over 1,800 existing studios across various districts in the country since the past 25 years. All top offices in the Indian government have been wired into the NIC VC network, using which any official can connect to any district across the country to host a meeting, government sources revealed. The same VC network can also be used by the Prime Minister's Office to connect to all his ministers.
The government advisory comes as third party video conferencing services such as Zoom face extensive security and privacy issues. Privately run services are being called out for a lack of tight encryption standards, which is key for hosting sensitive meetings through video platforms, such as official government meetings. With the NIC VC network already established across the government offices, ministers have an added advantage of having a ready to use framework, instead of needing to set up new services from scratch.