Congress asks Centre to come clean on digital safety measures

The Modi Government must make a statement allaying the fears of a comprehensive digital breach in absence of appropriate safeguards, says the Congress

Photo by Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Political Bureau

With high incidences of hacking attempts exposing the vulnerability of India’s cyber security, the Congress on Thursday questioned the NDA government on the measures taken to ensure digital security and privacy of digital transactions as the later has been trying to push India into “a cashless economy overnight”.


“Has the government done a security audit on all the digital platforms and all the e-wallets?” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi addressing the media on Thursday, the penultimate date of the Parliament’s Winter Session, which was seemingly heading towards a washout. “The Modi Government must forthwith issue a detailed explanation and statement allaying the fears of a comprehensive digital breach in absence of appropriate safeguards,” he added.


The Narendra Modi government has been changing the demonetisation narrative from “black money, counterfeit notes, terror funding and corruption” to that of a “cashless economy”. More incentives for cashless transactions are being announced while the issue of digital security is not being addressed.


Singhvi said that the safety of ‘digital data’ and ‘digital financial platforms’ is under a grave threat. Brazen hacking attempts have exposed the complete vulnerability of cyber security as also lack of safety of digital data and payment gateways thereby exposing the privacy of millions of Indians using e-wallets, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), UPI (Unified Payment Interface) and Net Banking.


Singhvi pointed out that in a major ‘financial theft’, as reported on October 20, 2016, data of 65 lakh ‘debit cards’ was breached. “Despite such a massive attack, the Modi Government and its IT Minister have brushed aside the entire episode. Till date, there are no details available about the action taken,” he said.

Recent repeated hacking attempts have exposed the vulnerability of cyber security as also lack of safety of digital data and payment gateways thereby exposing the privacy of millions of Indians using e-wallets, USSD, UPI and Net Banking


BREACH OF DIGITAL TRANSACTIONS and FINANCIAL PLATFORMS


Latest reports pointing towards compromise of digital transactions and digital financial platforms were even more alarming, he said.


Recently, a group of rogue hackers terming themselves as ‘Legion’ claimed to have hacked the servers of the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) and are threatening to publish the details of all digital transactions. The NPCI is a government-owned umbrella organisation for all digital and cashless transactions in India, and also maintains ATM data of over one lakh ATMs. The IT Ministry soon after did order an audit of the entire digital payment architecture of NPCI through ‘Indian Computer Emergency Response Team’ (CERT-In). Singhvi said the government should clear the air on whether NPCI data and servers have been compromised by a cyber attack in any manner and if any data has been stolen, which would put a serious question mark on the security of the digital financial architecture of the entire country.


The same rogue hackers ‘Legion’ also claim to have compromised the data of India’s biggest e-wallet company, PayTM. Further, Singhvi said the same hackers claim to have a dump of emails of Parliamentarians from ‘sansad.nic.in’, and, of a number of chartered accountants leaving confidential client data vulnerable to public consumption and open to business rivals.


“If there is an iota of truth in these claims made by the hackers to a number of leading online and print publications, it is extremely dangerous for digital safety putting a serious question mark on the security of the digital architecture in India,” the Congress spokesperson said.

Recently, a group of rogue hackers terming themselves as ‘Legion’ claimed to have hacked the servers of the government-owned National Payment Corporation of India and are threatening to publish the details of all digital transactions. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the government should clear the air on whether NPCI data and servers have been compromised by a cyber attack in any manner and if any data has been stolen, which would put a serious question mark on the security of the digital financial architecture of the entire country.


The Congress demanded that the Modi Government must answer the following questions to the people of India:


1) Has the Government adequately addressed the issues of safety and security of digital transactions by ensuring adequate hardware and software security apparatus?

2) Whether users of e-wallets and related platforms have adequate protection and provision for compensation from the service provider companies for fraud and theft? Is it true that under the current legal architecture, no compensation is payable to the customer of an e-wallet company for loss caused by an online fraud or theft?

3) Would the Modi Government order a comprehensive hardware and software security audit of e-wallet companies and other payment gateways as also make such security audit a compulsory bi-annual feature in the interest of the customers?


These are critical issues of digital security that the NDA government should not ignore; else larger woes await the hapless citizens in this hurried, unplanned transition to a cashless economy

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