Navy begins audit on Scorpene subs data leak

Navy begins audit on Scorpene subs data leak

Navy begins audit on Scorpene subs data leak

The navy has begun a detailed internal audit to rule out any security compromise on the six Scorpene submarines, a day after a massive leakage of confidential technical data on the underwater boats rocked the defence ministry.

A preliminary report was submitted to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday, but a detailed probe is underway to check the operational relevance of thousands of pages of crucial data on several aspects of the French-origin submarine.

“The detailed assessment of the potential impact is being undertaken by a high-level committee constituted by the Ministry of Defence. The Indian Navy is taking all necessary steps to mitigate any probable security compromise,” a navy spokesperson said.

“The government, as a matter of abundant precaution, is also examining the impact if the information contained in the documents, claimed to be available with the Australian sources, is compromised,” he said.

Initial analysis of the documents, posted on the website of The Australian newspaper that made the disclosure, did not suggest security compromise as vital parameters were blacked out, he said.

Moreover, some of the design parameters shown in the leaked papers were changed in the final design before the manufacturing process began.

However, what remains unknown is whether anyone else had access to those 22,400 pages because it was The Australian, which blacked out the data before putting these documents in public domain. The documents would be of immense value for India’s strategic rivals like China and Pakistan.

“My newspaper blacked out the documents on the web for security reasons. The entire data leak is completely unredacted,” tweeted Cameron Stewart, the journalist who reported the data leak.

“The Indian Navy has taken up the matter with the Directorate General of Armament of the French Government, expressing concern over this incident. It has requested the French Government to investigate this incident with urgency and share their findings with the Indian side. Other foreign governments were contacted through diplomatic channels to verify the authenticity of the reports,” the navy spokesperson said.

Parrikar instructed the navy to seek a detailed report from DCN — the French company which was selected in October 2005 as the vendor to manufacture six Scorpene submarines at the Mazagon dock in Mumbai at a cost of Rs 18,798 crore.

Integrity Pact

If the company is found guilty of its failure to protect the sensitive data, one of the options before the ministry is to invoke the Integrity Pact for imposing a hefty penalty on the French firm.

The Scorpene deal was the first defence contract signed with the Integrity Pact, whose purpose was to keep the middlemen away while ensuring that the data is not compromised.

However, there is no proposal before the defence ministry at the moment on the invocation of this pact, which was signed for all defence deals worth more than Rs 100 crore in the last decade. Sources said that the integrity pact could come into play only if the government can conclusively prove the guilt of the company.

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