Exclusive-Google locks Afghan authorities accounts as Taliban seek e-mail -source

By Raphael Satter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Google has briefly locked down an unspecified amount of Afghan govt email accounts, in accordance to a person common with the issue, as fears expand around the electronic paper trail left by former officers and their intercontinental associates.

In the months due to the fact the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan from a U.S.-backed federal government, stories have highlighted how biometric https://theintercept.com/2021/08/17/afghanistan-taliban-army-biometrics and Afghan payroll https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/08/30/1033941/afghanistan-biometric-databases-us-military-40-knowledge-factors databases may well be exploited by the new rulers to hunt their enemies.

In a assertion on Friday, Alphabet Inc’s Google stopped small of confirming that Afghan govt accounts ended up getting locked down, indicating that the business was monitoring the circumstance in Afghanistan and “using short-term actions to protected applicable accounts.”

1 staff of the former government has told Reuters the Taliban are in search of to purchase previous officials’ e-mails.

Late previous month the employee explained that the Taliban experienced asked him to preserve the info held on the servers of the ministry he used to work for.

“If I do so, then they will get obtain to the information and formal communications of the earlier ministry leadership,” the worker said.

The employee claimed he did not comply and has since gone into hiding. Reuters is not pinpointing the man or his previous ministry out of issue for his safety.

Publicly offered mail exchanger data show that some two dozen Afghan federal government bodies used Google’s servers to handle official e-mail, such as the ministries of finance, field, greater instruction, and mines. Afghanistan’s business office of presidential protocol also employed Google, in accordance to the records, as did some nearby govt bodies.

Commandeering government databases and e-mails could supply info about personnel of the previous administration, ex-ministers, government contractors, tribal allies and overseas companions.

“It would give a real prosperity of information and facts,” claimed Chad Anderson, a security researcher with internet intelligence company DomainTools who helped Reuters determine which ministries ran which e-mail platform. “Just even owning an employee listing on a Google Sheet is a huge dilemma,” he mentioned, citing studies of reprisals from governing administration staff.

Mail exchanger information present that Microsoft Corp’s e-mail solutions were being also applied by various Afghan government agencies, which include the ministry of foreign affairs and the presidency. But it isn’t clear what methods, if any, the application organization is taking to avert information from slipping into the palms of the Taliban.

Microsoft declined remark.

Anderson reported the Taliban’s attempt to command U.S.-created electronic infrastructure was worthy of keeping an eye on. Intelligence drawn from that infrastructure, he reported, “may be significantly additional precious to a fledgling authorities than aged helicopters.”

(Reporting by Raphael Satter modifying by Grant McCool)