Thursday, February 22, 2024

Major data breach; Personal data of vaccinated Indians leaked online

The private information of the millions of Indian citizens, who registered on the CoWIN app to get their coronavirus vaccination, appears to have been leaked to private players in a major data breach.

The personal information of individuals who signed up for COVID-19 vaccinations, including their names, dates of birth, phone numbers, and additional details provided during registration such as passport or Aadhar numbers, has been exposed by a Telegram bot.

CoWin is an official COVID-19 vaccination tracking app by Union government.

Reshma Asokan, a journalist from The Fourth News, a Malayalam news portal, was the first to uncover the story. The Fourth News conducted an investigation and found the personal information of high profile individuals such as Ram Sewak Sharma, the chairman of the CoWin high power panel, Kerala Health Minister Veena George, Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal, and Union Minister of State Meenakshi Lekhi.

Independently verified by Maktoob, if the mobile number of a person was entered, details such as the identification number of the document submitted for vaccination (Aadhaar, passport, PAN card and so forth), gender, date of birth, and the centre where the vaccine was administered, were provided as reply in an instant by the messenger bot in question.

The bot was blocked soon after the reports of the leak emerged.

Saket Gokhale, the national spokesperson for the Trinamool Congress, tweeted some of the names with screenshots of their ‘leaked’ data on Telegram.

Rajya Sabha MP and TMC leader Derek O’Brien, former Union Minister P Chidambaram, Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh and K C Venugopal, journalists Rajdeep Sardesai of India Today and Barkha Dutt of Mojo Story were among the names revealed by Gokhale furnishing screenshots.

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