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Aadhaar: French security expert allegedly hacks into Aadhaar app in a minute

The security expert said that his motive behind exposing the loopholes is to point the flaws to companies and help fix it.

  • Published: March 14, 2018 5:05 PM IST
aadhaar card image

French security expert, Elliot Alderson, who created furore over allegedly hacking into Aadhaar database of over twenty thousand users on a single day using a simple internet search tool is again hit the news. This time, he hacked into the Aadhaar Android app in a minute.

Alderson posted a video from his Twitter account highlighting the extreme vulnerability of the Aadhaar app and how it is possible to gain access to the app even without a rooted device.

If one takes a look at the alleged hacker’s timeline, it is filled with multiple discoveries of loopholes in not only Aadhaar but other prominent businesses including BSNL, Paytm, and the Indian Postal Service. In his latest tweet, Alderson highlights the vulnerability in the website of Apollo Hospitals which potentially exposes patient data.

India Today spoke to the hacker and discovered that the name Elliot Alderson is, in fact, an alias used for social media and the real name is Baptiste Robert. The hacker identifies himself as a freelance Android developer who works for phone makers.

On discovering vulnerabilities in Aadhaar cards in a single day, Alderson told the publication, “These cards can be found on the internet. Everything is public, no hack is required. You only need to use Google. These cards have not been found on the UIDAI server.”

He further said that it is possible to misuse the Aadhaar by accessing its Android app. Alderson explained that the main flaw with the Aadhaar Android app is that if an attacker has access to the device containing the app, it is possible to easily bypass the password mechanism and access data.

Meanwhile, the UIDAI issued a statement that by simply knowing someone’s Aadhaar, one can not impersonate and harm the person as the identification number alone is not sufficient and biometrics are the pre-requisite for such authentication processes. To this, Alderson said that UIDAI’s earlier statement of Aadhaar card being an identity document is inconsistent with the newer statement.

Alderson goes on to caution citizens against using the Aadhaar Android app saing it is complicated and one needs to be cautious when giving the Aadhaar card to anyone.

It is unusual for someone like Alderson who does not seem to be an Indian citizen to take key interest in businesses and government projects happening here. However, Alderson is quoted as saying that he simply wants to point flaws and help companies fix it.”I’m not motivated by the money at all. Security is important. As a company, it is your duty to protect your user data,” he is quoted as saying.

In a long threaded response to these reports, UIDAI has maintained that Aadhaar data is completely safe and no misuse of any kind has happened. In one of the tweets, UIDAI stressed, “Aadhaar just like any other identity document, therefore, is never to be treated as a confidential document.”

The report follows the Supreme Court announcement on the indefinite extension of the last date for linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, PAN cards, SIM cards, etc from March 31, 2018. However, for those availing services such as opening new bank accounts and applying for Tatkal passports, Aadhaar is still a mandate.

  • Published Date: March 14, 2018 5:05 PM IST