National

Railways deny reports about hacking of IRCTC website

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, May 6, 2016

The Ministry of Railways has clarified that there had been no hacking of the website of the public sector Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which is used by passengers for the purchase of railway e-tickets.
The clarification came in a statement here yesterday following reports in a section of the media about the alleged leakage of e-mail addresses and mobile telephone numbers from the user profile data of the IRCTC e-ticketing system.
"Indian Railways would like to clarify that there has been no hacking of the IRCTC website. The e-ticketing website has been working normally thereby eliminating any chances of unauthorized interference," the statement said.
It said that, as soon as the reports came to the notice of the Railways on May 2, thorough investigations were conducted and no such incident had been detected.
"The Ministry would like to assure that all necessary safeguards and security checks are in place for this website. There is a system of regular security audits by concerned departments of government of India. All the components of the system are functioning normal and no unusual activity has been discovered," it said.
The statement said all sensitive data like passwords and so on were stored in encrypted form. In addition to this, 24x7 monitoring of the system is done throughout the year by a technical team of experts.
"Hence there is no cause for any panic or concern. A Railway committee set up couple of days back, in its preliminary report, has not found any indication of breach of security in any of the databases of the e?ticketing system," the statement said.
The IRCTC e-ticketing system is managed in-house by CRIS, the IT arm of the Railways. The data centre is in the premises of CRIS.
"No 'Denial of Service attack' (DoS/DDoS) has been successful and the e-ticketing website has been working normally, thereby eliminating any chances of unauthorized interference.  About 5.48 lakh tickets were booked in a single day in April 2016 with 2.66 lakh peak concurrent users.  About 13,600 tickets per minute were booked," the statement said.
It said the e-ticketing system had several components such as  internet gateway, network security devices such as gateway router and firewall, application delivery controller, security information event management system (SIEM) web server and database server access logs.  
"Each of the components has been checked and none of the components has been found to have unusual activity.  Technical investigations have also not indicated any unusual activity with respect to various system components.
"The IT security of e-ticketing system is ensured through regular security audits by Standardization Testing Quality Certification (STQC) directorate of Department of Electronics and IT, Government of India. The entire traffic flowing on e-ticketing system internet gateway is also forwarded to CERT-In in real-time for monitoring and alerting. The gaps reported by STQC in their penetration testing have been addressed. However, auditing is an ongoing process and security audit of e-ticketing system is undertaken biannually.
"Audit trails are maintained for access to the system and all sensitive data like passwords etc are stored in encrypted form.  In addition to this, 24x7 monitoring of the system is done throughout the year by technical team of experts.  Strict physical checks are already in place in the Data centre like restricted access to Data centre, CCTV cameras at entry and exit points of Data centre.
"The data of e-ticketing system can be broadly categorized into two categories viz., sensitive information like Debit/Credit Card details, Login ID, Passwords, which could cause potential financial risk.  PAN card detail is not required for booking E-ticket. No sensitive data has been alleged to have been leaked. 
"It is clarified that other data like mobile number and email ids is available with a large number of electronic service providing entities viz., E-commerce firms, telemarketers etc.  Email and mobile numbers have to be shared with service providers for providing catering services, cab services, hotel bookings, SMS services, etc.  Till now, leakage of data through none of the service providers of IRCTC has been established.
"A joint committee comprising officers from  both CRIS and IRCTC has been set up.  The committee in their preliminary report has not found any indication of breach of security in any of the databases of the E?ticketing system.  Further investigations by this committee is in progress and once the purported leaked data is made available, further checks will be conducted," the statement added.
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