Indian government claims vaccinated citizens' personal data 'safe and secure'; cybersecurity experts call 'data leak' a Bitcoin scam

Indian government claims vaccinated citizens' personal data 'safe and secure'; cybersecurity experts call 'data leak' a Bitcoin scam
  • Data of people registered on CoWIN was claimed to be leaked on the dark web.
  • The claim has been refuted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • Cybersecurity experts also call the leak to be a scam.
The Indian government has denied the CoWIN data leak claim that surfaced on social media. On Thursday, some social media posts alleging the sale of vaccination data collected on the CoWIN platform were leaked on the dark web. CoWIN is the Indian government's online platform where people can register for COVID-19 vaccine registration and slot booking.

In response, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) said, on Thursday night, that the reports about the leak are fake. The ministry also claimed that all the collected data from the platform is stored in a "safe and secure digital environment" and was not shared with third parties.

The ministry has released a statement in response to the alleged data leak of 150 million people vaccinated for Covid-19. It says the matter is being investigated by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), although they've considered it to be fake, initially.

The leak was brought to light by a cybercrime intelligence platform tracker named DarkTracer. It tweeted a screenshot claiming to be "Database of covid19 vaccination India'' being sold by a reseller on the dark web named 'Dark Web Market' for $800 (approx ₹58,450). The screenshot shows that the data includes the name, mobile number, Aadhaar ID, and geolocation information of those who are vaccinated.

RS Sharma, chairman of the Empowered Group on Vaccine Administration dismissed the claim and said, “the data being claimed as having been leaked, such as geo-location of beneficiaries, is not even collected at CoWIN.”

Experts call the data leak fake

Cybersecurity researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia also said the claimed data leak to be fake, on Twitter. He said "This market is frequently posting fake data leaks and scamming people. They are just taking Bitcoin for nothing. Data Sample also not available anywhere."

Rajahariya claims that this market has a history of posting fake data leaks and scamming people. They have not shared the data sample, and are charging in Bitcoins, even for the sample. He believes it is a Bitcoin scam.

The data that is claimed to be leaked is not seen by anyone yet. Although the market has listed the advertisement on the dark web, the person/persons behind it has/have not provided a sample of the data. Usually, data sellers on the dark web provide free samples of the data on sale.

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