Wednesday, 16 October, 2019

EPFO suspends linking Aadhaar with PF accounts after data leak scare

EPFO flags data breach 2.7 crore people to suffer EPFO suspends linking Aadhaar with PF accounts after data leak scare
Patty Aguilar | 03 May, 2018, 10:47

Confusion prevailed on Wednesday after it emerged that the Employee Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) shut a website used to link Aadhaar numbers with provident fund accounts after it received information from the Intelligence Bureau that hackers had gained access to the site, but it wasn't immediately clear whether any data had been stolen.

"Warnings regarding vulnerabilities in data or software is a routine administrative process based on which the services which were rendered through CSC have been discontinued from March 22, 2018", said an EPFO statement issued after the report went viral.

Following reports of data theft of about 2.7 crore people registered with retirement fund body Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), retirement fund body EPFO maintained that there was no data leak. In the letter to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Central Provident Fund Commissioner Dr VP Joy has written that hackers have stolen data from the Aadhaar seeding portal of EPFO.

When contacted by news agency PTI, CSC CEO Dinesh Tyagi emphasised that while the said application had been designed by the CSC, it is now hosted on EPFO data centres and servers.

As news buzzed across social media, EPFO took upon itself to release a statement to state that there has been "no confirmed data leakage".

CSC was hired by the EPFO more than a year back to help in linking Aadhaar data with EPF account number.

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Joy reportedlystated in the letter that the EPFO had stopped the servers of the site and discontinued its hosted services, and urged Tyagi to plug the security gaps.

EPFO said there is nothing to be concerned about and all necessary measures are being taken to ensure that no data leakage takes place.

"The IB has advised adhering to the best practices and guidelines for securing the confidential data, re-emphasising regular and meaningful audit and vulnerability assessment and penetration testing (CAPT) of the entire system from competent auditors and testers", the letter said.

Seeding of Aadhaar number is mandatory for availing online EPFO services like submission of online claims.

"A vulnerability has been pointed out, and the exercise to plug the vulnerability will be undertaken, if it is there", said a senior IT ministry official requesting anonymity.

"We will have it looked at". The Unique Identification Authority of India, which is responsible for the Aadhaar platform, has clarified that the affected website does not belong to it, and that no data breach has occured at its end.

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