Virtual ID, a 16-digit number introduced to keep Aadhaar details safe

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A few days back, we came across reports suggesting that the Aadhaar card details of over 1 billion Indian citizens are prone to being exposed and sold for a mere Rs. 500. Later, the same was claimed to be false and it was claimed that the Aadhaar details are secure.

 
Virtual ID, a 16-digit number introduced to keep Aadhaar details safe

Now, UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) has announced a new feature to safeguard the Aadhaar card details of the citizens. UIDAI has introduced Virtual ID (VID) that is a 16-digit randomly generated number. The VID can be used for authentication instead of the actual 12-digit Aadhaar number.

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When it comes to the functioning of VID, it is a temporary and revocable 16-digit random number that is mapped to the Aadhaar number. It will be impossible for anyone to derive the Aadhaar number from the VID. The VID's last digit is the checksum that uses Verhoeff algorithm similar to the Aadhaar number. There will be one active and valid VID for an Aadhaar number, claims UIDAI.

Verhoeff algorithm is the checksum formula meant for error detection and is developed by the Dutch mathematician Jacobus Verhoeff. The Aadhaar number holder can make use of the VID for the verification, authentication and KYC purposes. The process of authentication will be the same as in the case of the Aadhaar number.

UIDAI adds that VID is temporary and cannot be used by the agencies for de-duplication. VID is revocable and it can be replaced by a new one by the specific Aadhaar number holder beyond the minimum validity period that is set by the authority's policy. Only the Aadhaar number holder can generate the VID. They can also revoke and generate a new VID on a timely basis after the time limit set by UIDAI.

 

The authority will give several options to the Aadhaar number holders to generate the VID, replace the existing VID with a new one, and retrieve the VID if they have forgotten it. These options will be seen in the UIDAI portal itself along with Aadhaar Enrollment Center and mAaadhaar mobile application among others.

Given that the VID is aimed to safeguard the Aadhaar details, we hope there is no further security breach in the case of Aadhaar number in the future. However, we are yet to see how this specific solution will work.

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