Military wives warned about risk of secret leakage on WeChat

Military wives warned about risk of secret leakage on WeChat
People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers shout as they practice with knives during a training session on snow-covered ground at a military base in Heihe, Heilongjiang province March 18, 2015.

As the mobile communication service WeChat becomes a must-have application on smartphones, the People's Liberation Army is urging wives of its service members to keep secrets from it.

Wives of officers at a brigade under the PLA ground force's 20th Group Army established a chat group to discuss how to take care of their husbands, but their talks often involve sensitive information such as the unit's drill operations and schedules, PLA Daily reported on Monday.

Some strangers were found seeking information about the brigade through the chat group, which has more than 50 members including officers, their wives and several vendors doing business near the battalions, the newspaper said.

Having realised the risks of leaking secrets on the mobile phone platform, commanders of the brigade organised lectures about confidentiality for family members and selected a wife to help manage and supervise the online talks, according to the report.

"Last year, I set a photo of myself and my husband in his uniform as my WeChat picture, then a stranger asked me to add him or her to my friends' list on WeChat several times, saying he or she wanted to make friends with service members," said a woman who identified herself as Xiao. Her husband is a staff officer of the 13th Group Army.

"My husband told me that I had violated confidentiality rules and made me delete all his uniform pictures."

Xiao said she is now very careful about posting photos and adding strangers on WeChat.

In early February, the PLA published a host of disciplines, requesting that service members strictly follow rules on mobile phones and the Internet, and forbidding them from involvement in personal blogs, online chatting or job hunting.

Yu Qiaohua, a professor studying military personnel management at the PLA National Defence University, said service members across the world must keep secrets.

"Modern communication platforms such as the Internet can be easily utilized by foreign agents to collect sensitive information about the PLA, so our service personnel must enhance their awareness of secrecy and maintain vigilance when using such platforms," she said.

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