Aadhaar database: Not secure anymore?

A case has been registered against a start-up for illegally accessing Aadhaar data

pratap

Pratap Vikram Singh | July 29, 2017 | New Delhi


#police   #Bengaluru   #illegal access   #data   #start-up   #Aadhaar   #IIT   #Ravi Shankar Prasad   #UIDAI  


 Union minister for electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad has fiercely defended Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) amid repeated occurrence of data breach and unauthorised disclosure. The position maintained by many in the government, including Prasad, is that the UIDAI database is secure and impregnable. 

Yet in July another case of unauthorised access came to the light. The UIDAI’s Bangalore office filed a first information report on July 26, saying Qarth Technologies founder Abhinav Shrivastava developed a KYC app which illegally accessed data from the central information data repository (CIDR).
 
Apparently, the app giving Aadhaar KYC details was in operation between January and July. Although there are different theories floating around on the nature of access to the UIDAI’s database, some media reports claim that it was made possible through a software manipulation, while other media reports claim that the app makers used license of some other authorized agency to access data.
 
The cyber wing of the Bengaluru police has already initiated a probe into the case and we would know the modus operandi once the probe is over.
 
Ideally, every time when such a shortcoming is brought to public notice, the security systems and processes related to the Aadhaar biometric and demographic data should be re-examined and strengthened further. On the contrary, with every breach, the government functionaries would reiterate how ‘robust, safe and secure’ Aadhaar data is.
 
There is not much information available on the security practices put in place at the UIDAI. Experts believe that the authority needs to become more transparent and have a continuous engagement with academicians and researchers in computer science and cryptology to make its systems more secure.
 
In ‘Aadhaar: on a sticky wicket’, Governance Now had spoken to a few experts including researchers and academicians at IITs. They believed that there are inadequate protections against insider attacks on central identities data repository (CIDR) data. “The CIDR data is encrypted but the decryption keys reside in CIDR. The [UIDAI] managers can have access to the decryption keys,” they say.
 
 “You need to have process to have control over the access. Data should only be accessed through a fixed computer programme, and not by a human, designed for some fixed functionalities considered sanitised,” said Shweta Agrawal of IIT Madras. The combination of cards can be codified as a computer programme. So it can’t be used for bad purposes, she said.
 
 The authority must have a separate administrative control for online audit and key management. It should prohibit manual inspection of CIDR data, the IIT professors recommend, adding that only ‘pre-approved and audited’ computer programmes with tamper-proof guarantees should access CIDR data.
 
Agrawal had also highlighted these concerns in a paper, titled ‘Privacy and security of Aadhaar: a computer science perspective’, which she co-authored with IIT Delhi professors Subhashis Banerjee and Subodh Sharma.
 
Experts believe that more such attacks would follow in days to come as more and more bank accounts will be linked to Aadhaar and more transactions will take place through Aadhaar enabled payment system.
 
It is an imperative that minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and the UIDAI officials have a more proactive approach towards securing the Aadhaar database, lest its cost outweighs benefits.  
 

Comments

 

Other News

On a personal note: DIVINE

An underground rapper who grew up on Mumbai streets, Divine spins his music around his environment and poverty. His breakout single, ‘Meri Gully Mein’, along with fellow rapper Naezy caught Bollywood’s attention. The Hindi film ‘Gully Boy’ is inspired by their lives and gr

The role model for an IAS officer

Anil Swarup, an IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre who retired in 2018, is a model bureaucrat who retained his optimism right till the end of service and exemplified dedication and commitment. His excitement at the opportunities that a job in the IAS provided is evident on every page of his new book publis

Reform of the civil services: At home and away

The question of reform of the civil services has been debated extensively at all levels at least over the last five to six decades after independence. Indeed, it was soon perceived that the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) may not be well equipped to deal with the problems of an emerging developing coun

The greatest challenge for any government

Shouting vengeance at all and sundry while wriggling out of holes of our own making seems to be our very special national characteristic. Some recent instances are illustrative of this attribute. A number of business tycoons with thousands of crores of unresolved debts have fled abroad with the government

The mysterious case of CBI’s legality

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) came into existence, based on a Resolution of the home ministry, dated April 1, 1963 – a sheer coincidence that it also happens to be April Fool’s day. Over the past few months, we have seen the CBI live up to its founding day with great zeal, being i

The Evolution of Modi

Gujarat was passing through a turbulent phase in the 1980s. The decade began middle class agitations against new reservation policies, and the caste friction turned communal under the watch of chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki, alienating majority of urban population on both counts. The ground was ripe for

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter