State gas company leaks millions of Aadhaar numbers in second breach

A state-owned gas company in India has exposed the personal information of an estimated 6.8 million people to Google searches, including Aadhaar numbers, Vice News reports. The leak was discovered by French security expert Baptiste Robert, and detailed in a Medium post four days after the company, which did not respond, was notified.

Indane provides subsidies of liquified petroleum gas, and by making accounts visible through a dealer portal unprotected with authentication, the names, addresses, and Aadhaar numbers of customers were exposed. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has previously said Aadhaar numbers, while not secret for verification purposes, should be protected like other identity documents and sensitive items such as credit cards.

TechCrunch has verified Robert’s findings, but Indane initially denied that there had been a leak, before taking its website offline.

A state government also leaked Aadhaar numbers of 160,000 government workers last month, according to Vice.

The UIDAI has consistently held that the deduplication and biometric identity verification features of Aadhaar make it secure against such leaks, and when an Indane endpoint vulnerability exposed personal information in early 2018, said its own database remained secure and no biometric data had been compromised. The agency has also previously said that exposure of Aadhaar information does not constitute a breach, but with national elections just months away, the national ID system, which has been both a signature project and a source of headaches for the Modi government, does not seem to be assuring the Indian public.

Aadhaar is still necessary for many transactions, however, and following the government’s commitment to the system, businesses including companies like NEXT Biometrics have invested in providing authentication under the world’s largest biometric program.

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