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Indian Government Discovers Major National Security Breach

indian flag breach biometrics

indian flag breach biometricsThe Indian government learned that its largest civilian database Aadhaar, which contains the personal information of 1.2 billion people, was not only vulnerable but compromised. A local news portal, as part of an investigative report, was able to secure access by paying an anonymous hacker the equivalent of $8.

This hacker, operating under a pseudonym, created false credentials allowing the reporters (allegedly) unlimited access to Aadhaar’s records, which includes names, dates of birth, mobile numbers, addresses, and biometric data.

The Indian Government’s response has been divided, with some departments stating that this constituted a massive breach, and other branches counterclaiming that the database is fully secure. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the current governing political party of India, claimed that the report was “fake news.” The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which controls the biometric information secured on Aadhaar, stated that they would be pursuing legal action against the journalists for accessing the database without government permission.

The division may stem from the question of whether the breach compromised the biometric data, which remains unclear. India uses biometric identifiers to identify Indian citizens and issue identification cards, which could be used to claim government benefits.

Takeaway: This article speaks to why so many industry experts are reluctant about biometrics becoming a major component of identity management: if they are stolen there is no way to issue new ones, and it could mean unchecked identity theft in the wrong hands. But this article also speaks to InfoSec as a global issue, not just one of the Western world. A breach of this size is sure to have ripple effects throughout the world, which can prove a threat to national security. Much like how endpoint security relies on securing every endpoint, international efforts to secure every country are necessary if we are to deal with hackers effectively. 

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