Aadhaar security is fairly solid, Virtual ID and facial recognition features are commendable: McAfee’s Jagdish Mahapatra

A tête-à-tête with Jagdish Mahapatra, Head of Channel Sales and Alliances, Asia Pacific at McAfee.



  • Security is an individual's responsibility.

  • Cybersecurity should be a part of education for both children and adults.

  • Aadhaar’s security is fairly solid. Users should embrace the new security measures.

Lately, security has become a hot topic of discussion – be it among organizations or at an individual level. Apart from companies being worried about getting hacked, individuals too are in danger when using public Wi-Fi networks, or sharing their Aadhaar details. Even children these days are prone to hackers when you consider how much they spend time online.

We got into a conversation with Jagdish Mahapatra, Head of Channel Sales and Alliances, Asia Pacific at McAfee on the topic of user security. Mahapatra was among the speakers at the eight edition of TEDxGateway, Mumbai.

Part of Digital India drive is the nation-wide roll out of public Wi-Fi. What should the government be doing in ensuring that people’s private data is not compromised via one of these networks?

First of all, on public Wi-Fi, the bonus of saving your data is on the consumer, i.e., on us. I believe more than the government, it’s the individual user’s responsibility. I have not checked the technology that is deployed on Wi-Fi, yet, I have no reasons to doubt that they will be low on security.

But there are some inherent challenges that Wi-Fi as a technology has, and I think it’s the user who should be more careful about when they use the devices. Like, how secure those devices are, and what additional security layers they have, like using VPN. Every time you are on a public Wi-Fi it is a must to check. So, if you can do that, then it gets really hard for the bad guys to steal your data. So, that one thing will help us while using public Wi-Fi.

In instances of global scale attacks such as Petya or Wannacry, how can one stay safe?

Last year, Wannacry and Petya impacted millions of computers, and most of that happened at home or in a small office. So, we get to realize that the internet is connecting all of us together. Also, any weak link in that will expose a problem which we call malware. This infects anyone’s computer and that person may not be there at that time, and that’s how connected we are.

First thing we need to learn is to start taking backups of our devices every day. When hackers take control of your PC they won’t allow you to take the file you want. If you have backups though, you don’t have to worry much. I think it’s the habit that will make our life easier.

At such times, what is the best way for the Indian government to disseminate safety related information to the masses?

I think information can be more widely spread. I feel it should be disseminated more in local language as the broader population needs to understand this and be on the same page as to what we are talking about. Also, it will get the user awareness up.

Kids these days are becoming increasingly technology savvy. How do parents ensure that their kids remain safe when surfing the internet?

I have mentioned this in my earlier TED talk with Shah Rukh Khan, who was the host that time. I think for parents, it’s important for them to start befriending the kids. Nowadays, kids are smart and they know more than we do, and there’s no debate on it. But, once you get friendly, surf together with them. Thus, we will know what we can learn from them. But, teach them a few things from real life risks and keep them safe.

Should cyber security be a part of children’s curriculum across the nation?

Absolutely! Why just children. I think adults too should enrol for online courses. They are available for so many areas, and I feel cyber security needs to have that as well.

Lastly, with all the buzz around the alleged security vulnerabilities around Aadhaar, should the common man be worried about the safety of his/her private details?

I think Aadhaar’s security is fairly solid. The worry about Aadhaar data is that it is floating around in different agencies. But I think what the government has done with Virtual ID and facial recognition is commendable. These are very strong layers of security.

Our users must make sure that they use those password options as well as facial recognition option, whenever that is available. Using these will keep us more secured.

What are the best practises for safeguarding one’s Aadhaar number and details?

First of all, my advice will be that if you don’t need to give Aadhaar card details, then don’t give. Provide it only if you have to in order to get some services, and that’s how they are communicating it as well. But whenever you are sharing it, you start using the new security options available. Also, keep that Aadhaar details hidden as much as possible. I feel if users are just conscious of it, then one can avoid all the data leakage.

  • Published Date: February 6, 2018 8:44 AM IST
  • Updated Date: February 6, 2018 8:46 AM IST