New Delhi: Concerned over the possibility of the hotline numbers of the Prime Minister being tapped, the National Security Advisor has ordered installation of Encryption System to make them foolproof. Now all the telephonic conversations of the Prime Minister with premiers of other countries would be held only on Leased Lines and the top research organisation Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been asked to provide the Encryption System.

The decision comes in the wake of a recent security analysis of the hotline numbers of the Prime Minister. The high degree of threat perception could be gauged from the fact that the decision has been implemented with immediate effect.

In the security check, it was found that there was no special mechanism in place to ensure the secrecy and security of the conversations the Prime Minister has with premiers of other countries.

It was found that there is considerable threat of somebody else hearing the conversation of the Prime Minister with other country heads like Obama, Putin and Merkel on the Integrated Services Digital Network. A team led by the NSA has laid down new parameters of insulating the hotlines from external threat.

According to sources, the public sector telephone service provider MTNL in association with the DRDO is formulating new parameters of the security of hotlines and their Standard Operating Procedure.

Sources say the technical defence experts are of the view that in order to secure the classified conversations, it is imperative to adapt to the Encryption system under which the sound communication is converted into codes. In other words, in order to hear the conversation it would be necessary to decipher the codes. The DRDO has developed such an encryption system.

Now the government has decided that all hotline numbers would be on leased lines which would be operated according to the encryption system and the responsibility of ensuring technical security of any hotline would be of the country which initiates the call.

However, legal bindings have also come in the way of securing the hotlines. As per rules, the encryption system cannot be installed where the writ of the Indian government does not run.  In a sense, India cannot pass on the encryption technology it is using to any other country.

In order to remove the bottleneck, it has been decided that the Indian technical experts would analyse the security mechanism of countries with which Indian Prime Minister gets in touch on hotline.

Thereafter, the experts would lay down new parameters of technical security and accordingly new memorandums for hotline connectivity would be signed with them.

Anshuman Tiwari/ JPN