Aadhaar is the biggest biometric identity proofing system of the world. Issued and managed by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Aadhaar has been made mandatory for availing government subsidies and verifying other documents and instruments. UIDAI has dynamically made improvements in Aadhaar to make it full-proof and safe from hacking and phishing. It has revamped Aadhaar and has taken it to a new level since its launch in 2009.
In the past 9 years, UIDAI has taken a number of steps to ensure it stays ahead of potential hackers and those who do not want Aadhaar to succeed. Let us have a look at some major steps taken by UIDAI to make Aadhaar safer and more user-friendly:
UIDAI introduced biometric locking feature to enable people to lock their biometrics through the UIDAI portal or through the mAadhaar app. When you lock your biometrics, you give permission to UIDAI to block all authentications performed through your fingerprints, iris scan or photograph. In case you want to access your biometrics, you can unlock it for ten minutes after which the lock gets activated again automatically.
If you do not wish to lock your biometrics, you can disable it online through the UIDAI portal. Biometric lock allows you to protect your Aadhaar from being misused by others in case somebody clones your fingerprints without your knowledge. It is advisable that you lock your biometrics and unlock it temporarily whenever you want to use it for authentication.
The virtual ID is a 16 digit code generated on a temporary basis against an Aadhaar number by the Aadhaar holder. It can be generated online at the UIDAI portal. Virtual ID is the next generation security system to protect Aadhaar number from being shared. You can use the virtual ID instead of Aadhaar number wherever authentication through Aadhaar is required.
You can generate virtual ids as many times as you want. However, only one id is valid at a time. When you generate a new 16-digit number, the old virtual id is flushed out. You can use this number to authenticate your details without sharing your Aadhaar number. Virtual id acts as an additional security feature for Aadhaar as it is not possible to track original Aadhaar number through virtual id leave apart accessing details mentioned in Aadhaar.
Aadhaar Authentication History
Whenever you invoke Aadhaar for authentication, be it OTP-based or biometric, online or offline, UIDAI stores it in its database against a transaction id clearly mentioning the invoking agency, type of authentication, date and time and other details. An Aadhaar holder can access this data and see when he has made authentication requests through Aadhaar.
In case he finds out any suspicious entry where the authentication has been carried out without his knowledge, he should file the grievance with UIDAI and ask the institution to look into the matter on priority. Also, the agency involved can be contacted and requested to share the details to prevent from falling prey to any malicious activity.
Aadhaar Update History
The new feature allows people to check what details in Aadhaar have been updated in the past and when. Whether updates have been performed online or offline, every entry is present in the list. You can check the details online and in case there is any discrepancy, you can lodge a complaint in the grievance cell of UIDAI.
Aadhaar update history also helps a person to keep a track of details mentioned in the past. It is worth mentioning that only you can access this information. Nobody else on your behalf can access this data as an OTP has to be entered to see these details and this OTP is sent to your mobile number registered with Aadhaar.
The mAadhaar app allows a person to carry Aadhaar with him on the go. The mAadhaar app can be downloaded on your android smartphone and accessed whenever required. This app helps you to share e-KYC online, check Time-based OTP and lock/unlock biometrics instantly. You can not only see your details through the app but also add up to two more profiles on your smartphone provided the mobile number registered with UIDAI is active on the smartphone.
QR Code for Offline Verification
UIDAI introduced QR code on Aadhaar cards recently. This QR code contains all information mentioned on the card. Even though this QR code can be used for offline verification, but your complete details are not displayed when the code is scanned thus protecting your details from being compromised with others. This feature allows agencies to verify instantly whether the copy of Aadhaar card submitted to them is not forged and is a genuine copy.
Aadhaar-linked Mobile/email Verification
You can now check the mobile number and email id registered with UIDAI against your Aadhaar. You have to visit the Aadhaar portal and select the option to check the mobile number or email id linked with Aadhaar. You can check which number is linked with your Aadhaar. In case you do not use the registered mobile number/email id any more, you can visit a nearby Aadhaar Enrolment Centre and get your details updated. It is worth mentioning that your mobile number and email id cannot be updated online. However, you do not have to submit any document proof to get these details updated in Aadhaar.
Face Authentication Feature
UIDAI is planning to launch the face identification method soon to enable old and others with worn-out fingerprints that face issues in authentication through their fingerprints or iris scan. However, this feature will be available in combination with any of the other authentication mediums such as fingerprints, iris or the OTP method.
The photograph of the Aadhaar card holder can be used as the basis for facial recognition. No new hardware would be required for carrying out this authentication which will make providing this feature easy for UIDAI as well. However, the agency will have to take permission from UIDAI to authenticate using facial recognition like they currently do with other biometric authentication methods.