7 people of a gang have been arrested by the Cyberabad Police after unearthing the massive data breach which had implications about the national security.
The have been arrested due to the theft as well as sale of sensitive data of the government and important organisations. This includes details of defence personnel as well as the personal and confidential data of about 16.8 crore citizens.
7 People Arrested Over Theft & Sale of Personal Data
M Stephen Raveendra, Cyberabad Police Commissioner said that the accused people of the gang were found selling more than 140 different categories of information which included sensitive information such as details of defence personnel and the mobile numbers of citizens and NEET students.
Hence as a part of legal action, 7 of these data brokers were arrested from Delhi. They had been operating through three companies (call centres) in Noida and other places. While the investigation is still going on, it has been found out that the accused sold data to at least 100 fraudsters.
The Commissioner Raveendra said that the accused had sensitive data of defence personnel containing their ranks, email ids, place of posting, etc.
He added that “This will have serious national security implications. The data of defence and government employees can be used for espionage; to impersonate them and commit serious offences that may jeopardise national security. We are in the process of finding out how this data got leaked and who are the insiders who are doing it”.
The accused firstly compartmentalized this data into various categories which include Energy and Power sector, PAN card data, Government employees, Gas and Petroleum, HNIs (High Net-worth Individuals), Demat accounts, student databases, women databases, data of people who have applied for loans and insurance, and credit card and debit card holders (of private banks), WhatsApp users, Facebook users, IT organisation employees, frequent flyers etc.
As per the police, it was through a search engine company and similar platforms that the accused were selling this data. It was unravelled by the police that they registered themselves as service delivery agents in different organizations, leaked this data, later aggregate it and sent it to the cyber criminals.
This issue came into light after a complaint was lodged with the Cyber Crime wing of Cyberabad Police about the sale and purchase of confidential and sensitive data. The accused had the data of NEET students, with their names, mobile number and their residential address.
Also found was a PAN card database containing sensitive information on the income, email ids, phone numbers, address of citizens. Commissioner said that government employees’ names, mobile numbers, categories, dates of birth etc were also found in a database, apart from a list of Gas and Petroleum companies with similar details of their staff.
1.2 crore WhatsApp & 17 lakh Facebook users Targeted
Police said that as many as 1.2 crore WhatsApp users and 17 lakh Facebook users had also been targeted in the data theft, with information on login id, IP, city, age, email id, phone number etc found in the possession of the accused.
This is lethal and can particularly precarious as due to the leak of PAN data, perpetrators can gain the confidence of victims by disclosing such information.