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Alleged data breach affecting 150 million Indians on Co-WIN is baseless: RS Sharma

We continue to take appropriate steps as are necessary, from time to time, to ensure that the data of the people are safe with Co-WIN, RS Sharma has said on data breach incident.

June 12, 2021 / 09:17 PM IST
National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma (File Image)

National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma (File Image)

Two days after the government launched an investigation into the alleged claims that the vaccination data of 150 million Indians were breached, Co-WIN chief RS Sharma said that the claims were baseless.

On June 12, the health ministry said in the statement that the matter of Co-WIN hacking has been investigated by the Computer Emergency Response Team under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

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Sharma, chairman, Empowered Group on Vaccine Administration, said in a statement on June 12, “The claims of so-called hackers on the dark web relating to the alleged hacking of Co-WIN system and data leak are baseless. We continue to take appropriate steps as are necessary, from time to time, to ensure that the data of the people are safe with Co-WIN.”

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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On June 10, Data Leak Market, a website in the dark web that reportedly sells leaked documents, was selling a database of COVID-19 vaccination in India for $800. The database included vaccination data of 150 million people including name, Aadhaar number, and location. “We are not the original leaker of data. We are the reseller,” the website read.

The data leak allegedly happened on the CoWin portal, which is used by users and government for vaccination.

However, the health ministry and security researchers have ruled out the possibility of such a hack. Rajshekhar Rajaharia, an independent security researcher, also said that Co-WIN portal was not hacked. “Some fake Dark Leak Market is claiming to sell data of 150 million COVID-19 Vaccinated People of India. It's completely fake and a Bitcoin scam.”

He further explained that the website has been posting leaked documents, which are fake. The reportedly leaked documents the site posted include SBI YONO, which was never hacked, he pointed out. It was also selling Mobikwik user data, which Rajaharia said, are not available on the dark web.

“This market is frequently posting fake data leaks and scamming people. They are just taking Bitcoin for nothing. Data Sample also not available anywhere,” he added.

Later, the French security researcher Bapiste Robert who had tweeted the data leak tweet, deleted it.
Swathi Moorthy

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