The central government has formed a panel of experts to suggest how to strengthen the cyber security framework of information technology (IT) support systems operated by the rural development ministry.
The background is concern over reports on 'public disclosure' of sensitive data through various portals and payment gateways,
The panel has had its first meeting. It will also explore methods through which synergy could be had in the various IT applications of the ministry — the latter gets a little over 15 million entries daily on its various IT platforms.
Ensuring cyber security has become all the more necessary after last month's notification for all bank accounts to be seeded with Aadhaar numbers by December 31 — else, they'd cease to be operational.
It is estimated that about 50 million who work in the rural jobs guarantee programme, MGNREGS, do not have bank accounts seeded with Aadhaar. To complete the process by December, the ministry has planned camps in villages from now till September.
Officials says the panel, headed by Kiran Karnik, former head of Nassom, the IT sector's apex association, is expected to give a report soon. The panel also has the chief executive of the National Institute of Smart Governance and cyber security specialists.
"Ever since the government made Aadhaar mandatory for many things, the entire system around it, including the Central Identities Data Repository (the agency storing Aadhaar data) is exposed to leaks," cyber law expert Pawan Duggal told Business Standard.
A recent study by Amber Sinha and Srinivas Kodali from the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) found details on individuals, including sensitive personally identifiable information such as Aadhaar number, caste, religion, address, photographs and financial information, are only a few clicks away through government schemes' dashboard and portals.
"While initiatives such as the government open data portals may be laudable for providing easy access to government data, condensed for easy digestion, in the absence of proper controls exercised by the departments populating the databases, the results can be disastrous, by divulging sensitive and adversely actionable information about individuals," the report said.
It specifically studied two major schemes of the rural ministry, the National Social Assistance Programme and MGNREGS, along with some state schemes.