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Business Other News 30 Nov 2019 FASTags pose serious ...

FASTags pose serious data privacy and security threat

Published Nov 30, 2019, 1:43 am IST
Updated Nov 30, 2019, 1:43 am IST
Criminals, Govt agencies can access data; threat to women’s safety.
FASTag is no more an option for vehicle owners but a mandatory requirement.
 FASTag is no more an option for vehicle owners but a mandatory requirement.

Chennai: FASTags that are soon going to be mandatory for all vehicles passing through National Highway toll booths pose a data privacy threat to the vehicle owners. It can also be a serious security threat for women owners.

FASTag is no more an option for vehicle owners but a mandatory requirement. But with FASTags it is possible to access the ownership and other data pertaining to the owner and it will be easy for tracking a vehicle not just by government agencies and other stakeholders of the system, but for private persons as well since RFID readers are easily available in the market at very low cost. “Worldwide, mass warrant-less surveillance of cars is a major human rights issue,” finds Fennel Aurora, Security Advisor at F-Secure, a Finnish cyber security company.


“Worldwide, this is mainly implemented via far more invasive and non-optional automatic number-plate recognition (APNR) via pervasive video surveillance cameras. There is a movement across the US of local governments trying to pass ordinances banning police departments from buying this kind of technology,” he said.

According to Aurora, depending on the implementation, it may be possible for persons with malicious intend to use a cheap RFID scanner to obtain sensitive information about vehicle owners from the tag by walking past parked cars and this information can be used for further crimes.

“Potentially the payment information could be retrieved, and fake payments forced to pass onto the linked account. Tags could be cloned to use on the criminals’ vehicle–a form of identity theft,” he said.

For women owners, there is an additional threat. If the name/gender of the vehicle owner is available, this can be a significant risk for women who can be more easily tracked and targeted by violent men waiting near identified cars, he said.

“The tag is primarily a unique signature and the data is out there. Being a privacy enthusiast, it is my top most priority to ensure that my data remains protected. FAS-Tag should be an option and not forced upon individuals,” said Farrhad Acidwalla, Founder, Cybernetiv Digital.

According to Sunil Sharma, Managing Director–Sales, India & SAARC, Sophos, all the software systems can be breached and FASTags also carry the cyber security threats that any software system carries.

“Given the widespread security, privacy, safety, and corruption issues around the Aadhar system, there are obvious reasons to doubt this new system also. Like many similar convenience measures that come with built-in surveillance, one has to wonder whether the few seconds saved is worth the potentially extreme costs.”