BHIM Data Exposed Through Partner Website

BHIM, an Indian app for online transactions, recently witnessed a leak of important data of users through one of its partner sites. While the government has denied a breach, the report mentions data leak of millions of users.

Crux of the Matter

Leaked Data
vpnMentor, an Israeli cyber-security firm, reported a breach of data used to register for the BHIM app, an Indian application for online payments launched in 2016 after demonetization. Reportedly, data of over 7 million users have been leaked. The data was available publicly till 22 May 2020 on Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 Bucket, which is a type of cloud storage.

The leaked documents include those documents used for app registration:

  • Aadhar Cards
  • PAN Cards
  • Caste Certificates
  • Residential Proofs
  • Bank Records

How Did The Data Leak?
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) developed the BHIM app in collaboration with CSC e-Government Services Ltd, which is a non-government company now affiliated to the Indian government by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) provision. The website for CSC uses the domain, and collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) for its cloud storage, using its S3 Bucket storage to store the data for BHIM.

vpnMentor has absolved AWS from the data breach and has placed the responsibility on CSC for its negligence in configuring the storage for data upload.

Govt Denies
While the Israeli firm has claimed a serious leak, the Indian Govt has denied any data breach in its statement.

We have come across some news reports which suggest data breach at BHIM App. We would like to clarify that there has been no data compromise at BHIM App and request everyone to not fall prey to such speculations.

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

While the breach did not leak the app users’ data, important documents used in the registration were disclosed to the public.

  • In May 2019 Australian graphic design tool website Canva suffered an attack that exposed email addresses, usernames, names, cities of residence, and salted and hashed with bcrypt passwords (for users not using social logins) of 137 million users. Canva said the hackers managed to view, but not steal, files with partial credit card and payment data.
  • A backdoor in a computer system, a cryptosystem, or an algorithm, is any secret method of bypassing normal authentication or security controls. They may exist for a number of reasons, including by original design or from poor configuration.
  • BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) named after B. R. Ambedkar, was launched on 30 December 2016 to facilitate e-payments directly through banks as part of the 2016 Indian banknote demonetization and drive towards cashless transactions.

USA Aflame With Race Riots

Race riots in US

US witnessed surge in hate-crimes specifically against black people in recent. The incident of Minneapolis has brought the whole country out on streets to protest against police brutality and hatred towards the black race. The protests have evoked various reactions across the world.

Crux of the Matter

Minneapolis Mayhem
On 25 May 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man was killed by police, which was called on Floyd after he was accused of using fake currency. Derek Chauvin, a white policeman, choked Floyd by placing his knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The incident occurred in daylight, with several bystanders recording while requesting Chauvin to spare the unarmed man. Floyd repeatedly requested mercy, even pleading “I can’t breathe” before succumbing to death.

Georgia Grieving
On 23 February 2020, a 25-year-old black man was killed in a similar hate crime. Ahmaud Arbery, the victim, was jogging when he was spotted by Gregory McMichaels and his son Travis McMichael. The father-son pair perceived him as a burglar and chased after him in their truck, and ended up shooting Arbery dead. While the incident occurred in February, the arrests were made in May after mass protests began

Hate-Crimes In US
Hate crimes are attacks against people or property motivated by prejudices concerning gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, etc. In US, while the total number of hate crimes has remained steady, the number of hate crimes specifically against the black race and different ethnicities reached its 16-year high in 2018.

Timeline Of Racial Riots In US
While slavery was abolished in 1865, hatred based on race and colour has continued in US. Following is the timeline of major racial riots:

  • 1865: Slavery is abolished
  • 1992: Los Angeles riots after 4 white policemen beat a black bike rider
  • 1996: Florida riots after an unarmed black man shot dead by several white police officers
  • 2001: Cincinnati riots after an unarmed black civilian killed by police
  • 2014: Missouri riots after a black teenage boy killed by a white police officer, who fired 12 times while claiming self-defense
  • 2020: Minneapolis riots after George Floyd’s death

Massive protests have ensued across the country, with several celebrities supporting the movement from US and the world. President Trump used the line “when the looting starts, the shooting stars” to express disapproval of violence in protests. The line was used by Walter Headley in 1967, Miami’s police chief, to show strictness against protesters demanding racial equality.

China has expressed solidarity with the protesters amidst continuous attacks by US for its dealings with Hong Kong and Taiwan. In a statement, China urged US to focus on internal issues before interfering in foreign affairs.

Racial Discrimination In Every-day Life

  • According to a 2017 report, black people constitute 12% of total US adult population.
  • 33% of prisoners were black, signifying imbalance of arrests.
  • Poverty rate is the highest for African Americans, standing at 27.4% as compared to 9.9% for Whites.
  • Ratio of unarmed black people killed by police with that of unarmed white people is 17:12.
  • Number of black people killed by police per million is 6.6.
  • Number of white people killed by police per million is 2.5.
  • Hence, a black person is thrice more likely to be killed by a cop than a white person.
  • Fruitvale Station is a 2013 American biographical drama film written and directed by Ryan Coogler. The film is based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, an African-American man who was fatally shot in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009 by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California. The film received critical acclaim and Ryan Coogler later directed Black Panther, highest-grossing black cast film worldwide.
  • “I Have a Dream” is a public speech that was delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. The speech was a defining moment of the civil rights movement and among the most iconic speeches in American history.
  • Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial segregation that existed in South Africa and Southwest Africa (now Namibia) from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid was characterized by an authoritarian political culture based on baasskap (or white supremacy), which ensured that South Africa was dominated politically, socially, and economically by the nation’s minority white population. Nelson Mandela was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election when the Apartheid legislation was repealed on 17 June 1991.