Several email accounts of the Afghan government have been temporarily locked down by Google, amid fears over the Taliban’s use of the biometric data, payroll databases and digital paper trail left by former officials to pursue their enemies.
Alphabet Inc’s Google said in a statement on Friday, 3 September, that the company was monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and “taking temporary actions to secure relevant accounts”, Reuters reported.
A former government official said that the Taliban are seeking to acquire former officials emails, Reuters reported. He added, the militant organisation had earlier asked him to preserve data held on the servers of the ministry he used to work for.
The official was quoted as saying, “If I do so, then they will get access to the data and official communications of the previous ministry leadership,” the employee said.
Several government bodies, including the ministries of finance, industry, higher education, and mines would use Google’s servers for official emails.
Moreover, Microsoft Corp’s email services were also used by several Afghan government agencies. However, it isn’t clear if Microsoft has taken any steps to prevent the Taliban from accessing data on their servers.
Chad Anderson, a security researcher with internet intelligence firm DomainTools said, “It would give a real wealth of information. Just even having an employee list on a Google Sheet is a big problem,” Reuters reported.
(With inputs from Reuters)