Elliot Alderson: Saying Aadhaar is un-hackable does not make it so

May 09, 2018, 07:08 IST | Gaurav Sarkar

In another exclusive interview with mid-day, French ethical hacker Elliot Alderson talks about how things have changed since he revealed his identity and how flaws in the Aadhaar system have remained the same

Robert Baptiste
Robert Baptiste

Elliot Alderson, the French ethical hacker who exposed flaws in the Aadhaar application has finally come out of the woodwork and revealed his true identity. He is Robert Baptiste, 28, a resident of Toulouse in France, who works as an app developer. Speaking to mid-day once again, Baptiste explains how simply stating the Aadhaar system cannot be hacked does not make it un-hackable and reveals how his efforts to reach out to Indian authorities regarding the flaws in the Aadhaar system have been in vain.

Baptiste revealed his identity a few weeks ago on Twitter, and even put up a photo of himself as the display picture for a brief time. He also appeared in an interview on a French news channel.

Nothing has changed
Has anything changed since? "Things have not really changed," said Baptiste, adding, "I declined all interviews after the appearance on French TV, and worked on non-India related topics. There are some people who recognize me at local conferences but abroad I'm mostly still anonymous." And how did people react to his picture?: "As far as I saw, reactions were quite good. People were curious to see a real picture of me."

Regarding his work on the flaws in the Aadhaar system, Baptiste maintains his stance about the system, with all its current loopholes, being as dangerous as ever. "In general, the issue is to make links in your digital life. By linking everything with everything, you will give a lot of information to the people who handle the data," he says.

But what about prominent UIDAI faces who have been claiming the system cannot be hacked? "There is no un-hackable system. End of story. Saying that Aadhaar is un-hackable does not make it un-hackable," says Baptiste, further pointing out, "Authorities are really playing a dangerous game. They need to fix the flaws exposed by whistleblowers as soon as possible."

Going on a more serious note, Baptiste states the 'state of security in the Indian cyberspace is quite bad.' "Every time I find something, I try to reach out to the concerned authorities. I contact them a lot, but they keep on declining," he says. While he continues to seek answers from the Indian government, he has been receiving a barrage of almost daily threats. But he's unperturbed, "I receive a lot of threats...I don't keep a count of them. In general, this is nothing serious, mostly just bored kiddos. It (the threats) does not affect me."

Half-marathon awaits
Baptiste is not all about exposes and ethical hacking. When he's not doing any of those, he is busy building apps and services, running and being with his family. "I try to be a good father and a good husband. I run a lot as well. Last year, I ran a marathon and I will run a half-marathon at the end of the month."

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