Google locks Afghan government accounts as Taliban seek emails: Source

Google has temporarily locked down an unspecified number of Afghan government email accounts.


Google, which specializes in Internet-related services and products has temporarily locked down an unspecified number of Afghan government email accounts, as fears grow over the digital paper trail left by former officials and their international partners, as per sources.

As per the report, the databases of Biometric and Afghan payroll might be exploited by the new rulers of the Taliban to tack their enemies.

On Friday in a statement, Alphabet Inc’s Google stopped short of confirming that Afghan government accounts were being locked down, “taking temporary actions to secure relevant accounts” as the company was monitoring the situation in Afghanistan.

The Taliban are seeking to acquire former officials’ emails, told one employee of the former government to Reuters.

The Taliban had also asked the employee to preserve the data held on the servers of the ministry he used to work during late last month.

The employee said, “If I do so, then they will get access to the data and official communications of the previous ministry leadership.”

“I did not act in accordance with them and have since gone into hiding. Reuters is not identifying the man or his former ministry out of concern for his safety” the employee added.

According to the Publicly available mail exchange records, The ministries of finance, industry, higher education, and mines, and some two dozen Afghan government bodies used Google’s servers to handle official emails. Google was also used by Afghanistan’s office of the Presidental.

Information regarding employees of the former administration, ex-ministers, government contractors, tribal allies, and foreign partners could be provided by Commandeering government databases and emails.

Chad Anderson, a security researcher with internet intelligence firm DomainTools who helped Reuters identify which ministries ran which email platform, citing reports of reprisals against government workers he said, “It would give a real wealth of information, by just even having an employee list on a Google Sheet is a big problem.”

Microsoft Corp’s email services were also used by several Afghan government agencies, including the ministry of foreign affairs and the presidency but it isn’t clear what steps if any, the software firm is taking to prevent data from falling into the hands of the Taliban, showed the mail exchanger records.

Whereas Microsoft declined to comment anything.

“The Taliban’s attempt to control U.S.-built digital infrastructure was worth keeping an eye on. Intelligence has drawn from that infrastructure, maybe far more valuable to a fledgling government than old helicopters,” said Anderson.

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