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National Health Authority CEO assures CoWIN portal data safe after leak allegations

healthcare | Jun 14, 2021 2:29 PM IST

National Health Authority CEO assures CoWIN portal data safe after leak allegations

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The government has refuted by recent media reports of the CoWIN portal, the website and app used to book vaccinations in India, being hacked and data of millions being leaked. RS Sharma, CEO OF the National Health Authority discussed all these issues.

The government has refuted by recent media reports of the CoWIN portal, the website and app used to book vaccinations in India, being hacked and data of millions being leaked.

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Apart from this, there has also been criticism of the idea itself as many believe the portal is a stumbling block for vaccine registration particularly for the under-privileged category due to a lack of smartphones and internet connectivity in rural India. RS Sharma, CEO OF the National Health Authority discussed all these issues.
“When the reports came, we also got concerned and we said let us find it out. So we put our agencies to work to figure it out and immediately we got the report that this is apparently prima facie not correct,” he said.
“The only information that we are giving away is a digital certificate which is a file which is given one-by-one. So it is not that we have a data dump kind of situation,” he assured further.
Sharma added that there were other safeguards and restrictions in place which essentially disallows any data download beyond a particular size.
“I can assure you that the security measures which we have in place, both at the cloud level and at the application level, ensure that we don’t provide data in bulk to any entity. The only data that we store of citizens is essentially their names, age, gender and mobile numbers. That data is also stored in a completely safe and secure environment,” he shared.
“The data is always encrypted. There are firewalls which are ensuring that no data download will take place,” he stated.
In terms of third-party apps being able to offer vaccine booking services, he said, “The total applications thus far is 125. We have accepted 91 applications which include 10 governments and 81 private applications like Paytm, MakeMyTrip, DRL, Max Healthcare, ICICI Lombard, Infosys, Apollo Hospitals, etc. They are at an advanced stage and it is a matter of days when they will start operating.”
On the move towards walk-ins, he mentioned, “As much as more than 80 percent of the people have got the vaccination on CoWIN done using walk-ins. So 80 percent of the people are not registered. The vaccination for the 18-44 age group was opened on May 1 and the number of people who had registered on April 28 was 1.37 crore. So what we have advised state governments was not to do the walk-in because of the demand-supply ratio mismatch.”
For the full interview, watch the accompanying video.
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