A lapse in security has resulted in the leaking of more than 100,000 Aadhaar numbers, TechCrunch can expose.
Among the web systems utilized to record attendance of government workers for the Indian state of Jharkhand was left exposed and without a password as far back as 2014, allowing anyone access to names, task titles, and partial contact number on 166,000 workers as of the time of writing.
However the picture on each record page utilized the file name as that employee’s Aadhaar number, a personal 12- digit number appointed to each Indian resident as part of the nation’s national identity and biometric database.
The data leak isn’t a direct breach of the central database run by Aadhaar’s regulator, the Special Recognition Authority of India (UIDAI), however represents another lapse in duty from the authority charged with safeguarding its information.
Aadhaar numbers aren’t strictly secret, but are treated similarly to Social Security numbers. Anybody of the 1.23 billion Indian citizens enrolled in Aadhaar— more than 90 percent of the population– can utilize their distinct number or their thumbprint to confirm their identity in order to enroll in state services, like voting, welfare or monetary help. Aadhaar users can even utilize their Aadhaar identity to open a bank account, get a SIM card, call an Uber, buy something on Amazon or lease an Airbnb
It’s unclear why the Jharkhand federal government site was available to anybody who understood where to look, however little effort had actually been put in to make sure the security of the system– or even hide it from the outside world. The website was quickly discovered on a subdomain of the state federal government’s website, and it was indexed by Google, which cached copies of not only the website itself, but likewise its attendance record pages that still contain Aadhaar numbers in each employee’s photo.
TechCrunch asked Baptiste Robert, a French security scientist who passes the online deal with Elliot Alderson, to have a look at the website. Robert has prior experience in exposing Aadhaar-related data leakages Using less than a hundred lines of Python code, Robert demonstrated that it was simple for anyone to scrape the whole site in batches to download their pictures and corresponding Aadhaar numbers.
TechCrunch confirmed a small choice of Aadhaar numbers from the site using UIDAI’s own verification tool on its site. (We utilized a VPN in Bangalore as the page was not available in the U.S.). Each record came back as a positive match.
After validating our findings, we connected to both the Jharkhand government and UIDAI.
At the time of publication, neither had responded, however the website had been pulled offline.
The direct exposure might represent a portion of the billion-plus users signed up with Aadhaar, but uncovers yet another unintentional disclosure of person data from a system that UIDAI claims is impenetrable Rather of gaining from errors and accidents, UIDAI instead has actually revealed a long history of rebuffing evidence of security events or breaches with mockery and declaring findings as “phony news,” by declaring to refute evidence without presenting any of its own.
The leak of Aadhaar numbers may not be viewed as delicate compared to leaked biometric data. Former chief law officer Mukul Rohtagi when called a different leakage of Aadhaar numbers “much ado about nothing.” But it raises fears that getting and misusing someone’s number might cause identity theft and scams– which supposedly peaked last year
Others have actually expressed issue that the system puts personal privacy at threat by tape-recording information on a person’s life, which authorities can use to carry out monitoring on common people.
However the direct exposure alone opposes the Indian government’s claims that the Aadhaar system as a whole is protected.
In the last few years, several security lapses involving information relating to Aadhaar have reignited fresh concerns about the central database– including several concerns discovered by Robert. In 2015, security researcher Karan Saini, a New Delhi-based security researcher, discovered a poorly secured web address utilized by state-owned utility company Indane that had direct access to the Aadhaar database, enabling him to query arise from the system. UIDAI rubbished the reports, baselessly claiming that there was “no reality to this story” in a series of tweets from its official Twitter account, regardless of proof to the contrary. In the very same year, India’s Tribune paper reported that some were selling direct gain access to to the Aadhaar database. UIDAI responded by filing a complaint against the press reporter with authorities.
Regardless of the security issues, India’s Supreme Court ruled the database constitutional in September after a long-running court fight.
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