Context: The reports of an alleged leak of the CoWin database being put up for sale on the dark web has emerged.


  • The reports claimed that the entire database of CoWin had been allegedly hacked and the data of about nearly 150 million Indians had been put up for sale for $800. 
  • The said leak allegedly contained names, mobile number, Aadhaar card number, location, state and other details of people who had been vaccinated.

More in the news:

  • The Empowered Group on Vaccine Administration and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) have asked Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) to investigate the matter.
  • According to the National Health Authority (in charge of the CoWin platform), it is taking all steps and continues to take all steps to ensure the security of the database and system.
  • CERT-In, with help of other domestic and global cybersecurity experts, was checking the entire CoWin platform to ensure there were no vulnerabilities.
  • Over the past few months, repeated attacks have been attempted by several state/non-state actors.
    • Sometimes, it is in the form of SQL (structured query language) injection attack and 
      • It consists of the insertion of a query into the database to modify and exploit sensitive data.
      • It allows the attacker to tamper with existing data, or steal someone’s identity or become the overall administrator of the said database.
    • Sometimes repeated DDOS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks.
      • It is an attempt to disrupt the normal working of a website or an application’s server by abnormally increasing the internet traffic on that website or application’s network.
  • In March 2021, the IT Ministry stepped up its vigil of cyberattacks on Indian firms in the vaccine, logistics, pharmaceutical and power sector.
  • It had then asked companies in these sectors to report “any and all major cybersecurity” incidents to the Ministry and CERT-In.

Related Facts:

Types of Cyber Attacks:

  • Malware stands for malicious software, which refers to any kind of software that is designed to cause damage to a single computer, server, or computer network. 
    • Ex: Ransomware, Pegasus(Spyware), Worms, viruses, and Trojans are all varieties of malware.
  • Phishing: It is the method of trying to gather personal information using deceptive e-mails and websites.
  • Denial of Service attacks: A Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack is an attack meant to shut down a machine or network, making it inaccessible to its intended users. 
    • DoS attacks accomplish this by flooding the target with traffic or sending it information that triggers a crash.

Latest Cases:

  • Pegasus (2019): It is an Israeli made spyware that works by sending an exploit link, and if the target user clicks on the link, the malware or the code that allows the surveillance is installed on the user’s phone. 
  • WannaCry(2017): The ransomware locked user’s devices and prevented them from accessing data and software until a certain ransom was paid to the criminals. 
    • The top five cities in India (Kolkata, Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Pune and Mumbai) got impacted due to it.

Laws related to Cyber Security in India:

Information Technology Act, 2000:

  • The act lists down following as offences:
    • Tampering with computer source documents.
    • Hacking with the computer system.
    • Act of cyber terrorism i.e. accessing a protected system with the intention of threatening the unity, integrity, sovereignty or security of a country.
    • Cheating using computer resources etc.
  • The act regulates the use of computers, computer systems, computer networks and also data and information in electronic format.

National Cyber Policy, 2013:

  • It aims to:
    • Create a secure cyber ecosystem.
    • Create mechanisms for security threats and responses to the same through national systems and processes.
      • National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) functions as the nodal agency for coordination of all cybersecurity efforts, emergency responses, and crisis management.
    • Secure e-governance by implementing global best practices, and wider use of Public Key Infrastructure.
    • Provide protection and resilience of critical information infrastructure with the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) operating as the nodal agency.
      • NCIIPC was created under the Information Technology Act, 2000 to secure India’s critical information infrastructure, based in New Delhi.
    • Promote cutting edge research and development of cyber security technology.
    • Build Human Resource Development through education and training programs to build capacity.

Source: The Indian Express