29.01.2024: To Avoid Phishing & Theft, Centre Asks GST Officials To Stop Using Public Email IDs For Official Communication

The office of the Directorate General of Systems & Data Management of the central government has written to all the customs & GST field formations, directorates, and officers to immediately switch over to gov.in/nic.in Email IDs for all their official communication instead of using public Email IDs like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc, since such emails are susceptible to threats like privacy theft, credential dumping, targeted attacks like phishing, etc.

Central circular to customs & GST officers 

According to the circular, a copy of which was accessed by FPJ, “While considering the security of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC)'s digital footprint, one of the vulnerabilities in our security architecture has been identified as the usage of public E-mail IDs like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. On the All-in-Ones (AIOs) provided for official work. At present the security policy of AIOs has been configured to allow accessing any public Email ids on such AIOs.”

“An analytical study of such usage of public Email IDs on AIOs has revealed that such Email IDs cannot be tracked, and no mail trail can be established. Furthermore, the malicious links, files, etc., piggybacking these emails cannot be scanned as these emails are directly landing on the network, bypassing our CBIC's mail gateway. For Taxpayers/ Stakeholders, emails originating from such public E-mails have a risk of establishing the authenticity of the user and such stakeholders are hesitant to respond, doubting its authenticity,” the circular stated.

“Further the Gov.in/Nic.in Email IDs are being maintained by NIC, and they subscribe to the security protocols as per the E-mail policy of the Government of India. It is mandatory for all Government employees working under different arms of the Government, both Central and State, to use e-mail service provided by the government i.e. nic.in or gov.in. It has been noticed that 95 customs, CGST formations and many officers are using public email IDs such as Gmail as their official email ID. This situation was unavoidable till a few years back as gov.in or nic.in e-mail IDs were not available to all the officers. However, NIC has now provisioned personal name-based gov.in IDs to all officers of the Government of India. Similarly, any NIC department/section can apply for generic e-mail IDs that represent their department. Officers can also have designation-based e-mail IDs, which are to be handed over to the successor for continuity and knowledge transfer,” stated the circular.

“It has been decided by the CBIC that in order to secure the digital environment of CBIC, all the Customs & GST Field formations/ Directorates/Officers shall immediately switch over to gov.in/nic.in E-mail IDs for all their official communication by 01.02.2024,” the circular stated.

Source: The Free Press Journal

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