The Cyberabad Police cracked down on one of the massive data breaches in the country that included the confidential data of about 16.8 crore citizens, including that of defence personnel and NEET applicants. The police arrested seven people of the gang from Delhi and accused them of the theft and sale of sensitive data. From what is known so far, the data brokers extracted data that has serious implications for national security, and it has been sold to at least a hundred fraudsters.
"Service Delivery Agents" Selling Data
An official statement from the Cyberabad Police Commissioner M Stephen Raveendra conveyed that the accused were found selling more than 140 different categories of information. This included sensitive information such as details of defence personnel and mobile numbers of citizens and NEET students, among others. Commissioner Raveendra voiced his concern over the serious national security implications this data breach could have as information regarding defence personnel's ranks, email ids, and place of posting was found available with the accused. Such information about defence and government employees can easily be used for espionage, impersonation, or other serious crimes that could jeopardise national security.
Other data that the accused were found in possession of and selling around was related to the Energy and Power sector, Gas and Petroleum, PAN card data, High Net-worth Individuals, demat accounts, student databases, loan and insurance applicants, credit card and debit card holders, WhatsApp/ Facebook users, frequent flyers, and women, among others. The officials are currently in the process of finding out how this data got leaked and who the insiders are responsible for enabling it.
So far, seven data brokers have been arrested from Delhi, who have been operating through three call centres in Noida and other localities. They have sold data to at least 100 fraudsters through a search engine company and similar platforms. A report by NDTV stated that the accused aggregated data from different organisations, registered themselves as service delivery agents, and sold the data to cyber criminals after sending them sample data.
Red Alarm For Cyber Crimes
The data breach had come to light after a complaint regarding the sale and purchase of confidential data was lodged with the Cyber Crime wing of Cyberabad Police. This was reported to the police at a time when the personnel had already been investigating how cyber criminals were getting access to data. The vast data they were in possession of was shocking as it contained everything from the residential address of NEET students to the PAN card database of citizens, meaning just about every other individual was at the potential risk of being a victim of cyber crimes.
As many as 1.2 crore WhatsApp users, 17 lakh Facebook users, and the mobile database of three crore citizens had been targeted with data theft. On the preliminary level, it can only be assumed that the data was leaked from telecom service providers. The intensity of crimes that can be committed with the data breached is extreme as multiple buyers of the data now have unauthorised access to important organisations, institutions, and individuals.
Also Read: Are You Protected Online? Know About These Cyber Scams & How To Stay Digitally Safe