Singh’s staff’s use of a free e-mail account is typical of most government workers, who log into Hotmail,Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Gmail and Yahoo! Inc.’s e-mail to conduct official business. They also list those addresses on agency websites and business cards.
Bureaucrats avoid the government system because it covers only 10 percent of federal employees, doesn’t include the latest security patches and can’t be accessed via India’s 840 million mobile-phone connections. That preference for free e-mail accounts threatens the safety and veracity of government information because the data is moving through computer servers outside India, cybersecurity experts said.
“It’s a recipe for disaster,” saidPawan Duggal, a New Delhi lawyer who argues information-technology cases beforeIndia’s Supreme Court. “It’s really quite amazing that, as a nation, we haven’t yet woken up to the idea that sensitive government information should be shared through secure channels, not Hotmail or Yahoo.”