Data of more than 1 Billion Indian Aadhaar cards is open to Cyber Attack!

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A White Paper released by Reserve Bank of India(RBI), India’s Central Banking Institution, has disclosed that for the first time in the history of India, there is now a readily available single target for cybercriminals in the form of Aadhaar details.

Aadhaar is a Unique Identity Number issued to all Indian based on their biometrics and demographic data. It is issued to all Indian citizens by UIDAI- which stands for Unique Identification Authority of India. The UIDAI is based in New Delhi and is authorized to develop, identify, and set up the necessary infrastructure for issuing Aadhaar Cards.

Currently, names, addresses, photos, phone numbers, email addresses, details such as movable and immovable properties owned by an Indian citizen, and his/her eligibility for government schemes is being secured in the Aadhaar database.

As Aadhaar works in lines with the United States Social Security Number it is said to face a potential cyber threat from state-funded cybercriminals in coming days.

According to the white paper compiled by the Institute for Development and Research in Banking, an affiliate to RBI, a data breach of UIDAI database can potentially cripple Indian businesses and administrations in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago.

“The leak can bring in a change in the political and economic situation of the Indian subcontinent if authorities fail to bring in stringent measures into action for protecting the said sensitive data”, said Dr. S. Ananth, the author of the white paper.

In the year 2010, the Indian Government under the regime of Congress leaders brought in a resolution to offer a unique identification number to each citizen of India. The law was immediately brought into the act by the end of 2010 and was implemented from early 2011.

Till data UIDAI succeeded in issuing more than 111 crore Aadhaar numbers to Indians, means more than a Billion. All the data is being secured and stored in 4 offices based in 3 popular metro cities of India- Bangalore, Chennai and, Delhi.

The primary challenge of the Aadhaar authorities in next few years is to protect data from prying and profit-seeking eyes of the business world. As Aadhaar is being linked to various economic and administrative activities of the Indian government, protection of the biometrics will be a big challenge. The other issue will be archiving the data for the next 5 years as per the government directives issued in the year 2016.

So, Dr. S Ananth said that maintaining the UIDAI database, securing it from the prying eyes of the state and international cyber gangs will be a big challenge to the Indian Government in coming years.

Very recently, former US NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden has also tweeted in support of an Indian journalist being investigated by the law enforcement on the controversial Aadhaar Biometric Identity scheme.

His tweet was in support of an Indian Journalist named Rachna Khaira, who said that she was able to access the Aadhaar database just by bribing a low cadre employee of the government agency with just a Rs 500 note.

Mr. Snowden said that Ms. Khaira should be lauded by the Indian government, especially The Tribune, instead of being accused of accessing the UIDAI database without permission.

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Naveen Goud
Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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