Indian Mobile Payment App MobiKwik Ensnared in a Massive Data Breach

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in News April 06, 2021

MobiKwik, an Indian mobile payment app suffered a major data breach earlier this year, and millions of users’ personal account information were leaked on the dark web. The breach includes 8.2 TB of data affecting millions of MobiKwik users.

What Happened?

MobiKwik data breach

On March 4, a dark web data leak site showed 36,099,759 records available for review. MobiKwik quickly denied its validity and claimed it is being harassed by an independent security researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia who issued his report earlier this month to highlight security vulnerabilities.

They said this about it on Twitter “A media-crazed so-called security researcher has repeatedly over the last week presented concocted files wasting precious time of our organization while desperately trying to grab media attention. We thoroughly investigated his allegations and did not find any security lapses. The various sample text files that he has been showcasing prove nothing. Anyone can create such text files to falsely harass any company.”

Unfortunately, many users have confirmed the leaked information and claim it is legitimate. The original announcement of leaked data from MobiKwik showed up on the dark web around February 24.

According to The Hacker News, the leaked information includes: 

  • “Customer names.

  • Hashed passwords.

  • Email addresses.

  • Residential addresses.

  • GPS locations.

  • List of installed apps.

  • Partially-masked credit card numbers.

  • Connected bank accounts and associated account numbers.

  • Know your customer (KYC) documents of 3.5 million users.”

How Did MobiKwik React?

After the threat researcher outed the company; although MobiKwik denied the legitimacy of the threat, they closed access, and he posted online that he could no longer access the data or download it. 

However, in a twist of fate, three weeks later, on March 27, the hackers posted a message saying, “we recovered all data, and it’s up for sale.” They are offering the cache of data (8TB) for 1.5 bitcoin ($85,684.65).

There are also hints that they are extorting money directly from MobiKwik and have put the information for sale on hold. It is unclear how hackers were able to access all the data from the payment processing service. 

The Hacker News contacted MobiKwik for a comment and they said, “When reached for a response, a MobiKwik spokesperson downplayed the breach, stating that the data shared on the dark web site hasn’t been retrieved from its own servers. The company also said it’s working with relevant authorities to carry out a security audit of its platform.”

The actual response reads, “Some users have reported that their data is visible on the dark web. While we are investigating this, it is entirely possible that any user could have uploaded her/his information on multiple platforms. Hence, it is incorrect to suggest that the data available on the dark web has been accessed from MobiKwik or any identified source.”

“As a regulated entity, the company takes its data security very seriously and is fully compliant with applicable data security laws. The company is subjected to stringent compliance measures under its PCI-DSS and ISO Certifications, which includes annual security audits and quarterly penetration tests to ensure the security of its platform. As soon as this matter was reported, the company undertook a thorough investigation with the help of external security experts and did not find any evidence of a breach. The company is closely working with requisite authorities on this matter, and considering the seriousness of the allegations, will get a third party to conduct a forensic data security audit. For its users, the company reiterates that all MobiKwik accounts and balances are completely safe.”

Defying the Regulations

MobiKwik is not only in hot water over the data breach and a backlash of customer outrage, but the leak suggests that they were storing customer’s credit card information online, which is a big no-no. It has also come to light that they continued to store credit card details even after the users deleted them from their account!

According to The Hacker News, “New guidelines issued by India’s apex banking institution, the Reserve Bank of India, prohibit online merchants, e-commerce websites, and payment aggregators from storing card details of a customer online. The rules are set to come into effect starting July 2021.”

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