Pakistani spies hacked into the laptop of Brahmos Aerospace missile engineer Nishant Agrawal using three apps

In a shocking turn of events, Nishant Agrawal, an award-winning engineer who once held a prestigious position in India’s BrahMos missile program, has been convicted of leaking critical military secrets to Pakistan. This case highlights the ever-present danger of espionage and underscores the importance of rigorous security measures in safeguarding national defense assets.

Who is Nishant Agrawal?

Nishant Agrawal was not just any engineer; he was a celebrated professional known for his contributions to the BrahMos Aerospace program. His career was marked by numerous accolades, reflecting his expertise and dedication. Working in the missile assembly unit in Nagpur, Nishant was a key player in one of India’s most important defense projects.

The BrahMos Missile Program

The BrahMos missile program is a joint venture between India and Russia, involving the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and NPO Mashinostroyenia of Russia. This supersonic cruise missile is a crucial component of India’s defense capabilities, known for its speed, precision, and versatility. Protecting the information related to such a strategic asset is of paramount importance.

The Espionage Incident

Nishant Agrawal’s arrest in October 2018 was the result of a meticulous operation conducted by Military Intelligence (MI) and the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The operation was a response to suspicions that Nishant was involved in leaking sensitive information.

The Role of Sejal

The espionage saga began with Sejal, an elusive figure who contacted Nishant under the guise of a recruiter from UK’s Hays Aviation on LinkedIn. Sejal’s approach was sophisticated, involving the creation of a false identity and the manipulation of social engineering tactics to gain Nishant’s trust.

The Malicious Apps

Sejal’s ploy included convincing Nishant to install three applications on his personal laptop: Qwhisper, Chat to Hire, and X-trust. These apps were cleverly disguised as tools for communication and job recruitment but were, in fact, malware designed to steal data.


This app appeared to be a secure messaging platform but was capable of intercepting and transmitting confidential information.

Chat to Hire

Posing as a job recruitment tool, Chat to Hire was used to lure Nishant into deeper communication, further exposing sensitive data.


X-trust, another seemingly innocuous app, facilitated the extraction of classified information from Nishant’s laptop.

How Data Was Leaked

The malware embedded in these apps allowed Sejal and her associates to access Nishant’s personal laptop, which contained critical documents related to the BrahMos missile. This breach of BAPL’s security norms led to the unauthorized transmission of sensitive military information to foreign agents.

Investigations and Evidence

The investigation unearthed significant evidence against Nishant. Documents related to the BrahMos missile were found on his personal devices, and digital footprints linked the data theft to the malware he had installed. Testimonies from investigators and Nishant’s own admissions further solidified the case.

Legal Proceedings

Nishant Agrawal faced charges under Section 66(f) of the Information Technology Act and various sections of the Official Secrets Act (OSA). The prosecution argued that his actions jeopardized national security by leaking sensitive information to a foreign power.

The Conviction

The sessions court found Nishant Agrawal guilty under Section 235 of the Criminal Procedure Code. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, a verdict that reflected the gravity of his offenses. The court emphasized the need to deter such betrayals of national trust.

Reactions to the Conviction

The conviction of Nishant Agrawal elicited strong reactions from various quarters. Defense experts stressed the importance of stringent security protocols, while the public expressed a mix of shock and outrage over the betrayal. Government officials reiterated their commitment to safeguarding national security.

Impact on National Security

The immediate impact of this espionage incident was a thorough review of security protocols within the BrahMos program. In the long term, it raised awareness about the vulnerabilities posed by insider threats and the need for robust cybersecurity measures.

Lessons Learned

This incident underscores several critical lessons. Firstly, the importance of stringent security measures for personnel handling sensitive information cannot be overstated. Secondly, the case highlights the evolving nature of espionage, where cyber tactics are increasingly employed.

Preventive Measures

To prevent such incidents in the future, defense organizations must strengthen internal security protocols and conduct regular audits. Additionally, educating defense staff about the dangers of social engineering and cyber threats is crucial. Implementing advanced cybersecurity measures and monitoring systems can also help detect and neutralize threats early.


The case of Nishant Agrawal is a stark reminder of the constant vigilance required to protect national security. While his actions have had significant repercussions, they also provide an opportunity to reinforce our defenses against similar threats in the future. Ensuring the integrity and security of sensitive information is a collective responsibility that demands unwavering commitment.

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