UIDAI introduces new Encryption Key in Aadhaar authentication devices

Aadhaar authentication devices are to be upgraded with new encryption standards set by UIDAI from June 1

Aadhar Card, Source: Aadhar Card Kendra

New Delhi, Mar 19, 2017: All devices using Aadhaar authentication to meet the new encryption standards set by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) from June 1, this year.

Through this move, the UIDAI aims to add yet another layer of security to the hardware at a time when all such devices are ready to take the centre stage in biometric-based digital payments.

“We have recently come out with new specifications and asked manufacturers and vendors to go for STQC certification as per the new standards. We have advised that from June 1, they should get devices on the new specifications and that the existing devices should be upgraded to the new norms,” Ajay Bhutan Pandey, CEO of UIDAI.

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The UIDAi is responsible for providing each resident of India an Aadhaar, which is an unique 12-digit identification number identifying residents based on their biometrics. While more than 112 crore Aadhaar have been generated in the country, the Aadhaar authentications have crossed 500 crore, and 100 crore e-KYC have been done on the platform, mentioned PTI report.

A finger print scanning device to enable biometric authentication; Source: VOA

Pandey specified that only those devices that choose to use Aadhaar authentication, would be required to adhere to the new standards. Only such “registered devices” would be allowed to carry out Aadhaar authentication after incorporating the new specifications.

“We are continuously trying to tighten the security. We felt that while the system is secure, we want to further improve the security by building one more layer. So, if the device itself can be encrypted it will be harder to break into the system,” he said.

Putting it simply, he said that presently, two locks exist- one at the agency level and another at the UIDAI. The new system will add a third locking system on the biometric device itself.

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Pandey further said that UIDAI has been negotiating with the manufacturers of the device for about a year and half for execution of the new specifications.

During this period, the Aadhaar has seen its figures rise steeply in terms of both, authentication and enrolment. The daily Aadhaar authentication figures stand at approximately 2 crore today, against 10 lakhs about a year and a half ago.

“Unless they see demand, no manufacturer will manufacture as per your specification. Now manufacturers too are showing interest. They know when they make specially designed biometric fingerprint scanner for Aadhaar and put another lock as per UIDAI’s requirement, it will sell in the market. Hence, they are open to the idea,” Pandey said.

– Prepared by Nikita Saraf, Twitter: @niki_saraf