I saw an interesting tweet from a friend today on my Twitter timeline which said, “Apparently IRCTC is selling its email database to spammers. Getting SPAM on my irctc-only email address”.
Apparently IRCTC is selling its email database to spammers. Getting SPAM on my irctc-only email address
— Navin Kabra (@ngkabra) July 1, 2014
I was quite surprised by this, because IRCTC is a big huge government organization, and a bureaucratic one too. For IRCTC, as a organization, to sell user email IDs to marketers or spammers is something I could not believe. So, I decided to dig further.
After having conversation with Navin, it became quite clear that the email ID on which he received the unsolicited email was used for nothing else apart from IRCTC account registration .
Many users who value their privacy generally use different custom email IDs for registering on different websites (they do it by way of catch-all email functionality, where prefix of mail could be anything and yet all mails arrive at same mailbox), so when they receive any spam on a particular ID, they immediately know the source from where the email ID has been leaked.
In this case it was the ID specifically created for IRCTC: Look at all 3 screenshots given below. All the emails have been sent to – firstname.lastname@example.org – the email that was created for IRCTC registration. This email was not used elsewhere for any other purposes.
Unsolicited Spam Email From MyDirectMailbox
Unsolicited Spam Email From Indian National Congress
Unsolicited Spam Email From Shop Online India
Navin confirmed to us that he has received approx 6 such spam emails in last few months.
- SHOP India Online (2 mails so far)
- One from a random Fixed Deposit Scheme
- And most interestingly, from Indian National Congress (3 mails so far)
It is quite safe to say that it was not one-off instance and clearly a case where his IRCTC email ID was sold (or shared) to marketers.
Does IRCTC sell registered user Email IDs?
We surely have a clear proof that IRCTC email address is compromised, but the question is whether IRCTC themselves do it?
In our view, it is nearly impossible for a govt organization to do anything of this sort. But think about people working inside IRCTC. The system administrators or the software engineers or anyone who has access to the database. They have access to millions of email addresses and that is a potential gold mine and easy money!
In all probability, IRCTC employees having access to user database are responsible for email ID compromise.
Having said that, from user perspective, it is IRCTC who is responsible for the breach and not any one single employee (and hence the title)!
Would love to hear your thoughts on this!"IRCTC Selling User Email IDs To Spammers And Here Is The Proof",