Transport department to seek NIC help to test smart card quality

Speaking to TNIE, a senior official in the technical wing of the transport department ruled out the possibility of data compromise through the chip.
Image used for representation
Image used for representation

HYDERABAD: The Transport Department has sought the assistance of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to check the quality of the smart cards issued for vehicle registration certificates (RC) and driving licenses (DL). The report is expected to come to fore in the 10 to 15 days.

On Friday, Kamal Soi, chairman of a Punjab-based NGO Raahat, alleged that the chips in the smart cards are of poor quality, manufactured in China, and vulnerable to data breaches. The department issues an estimated 20 to 25 lakh smart cards annually across the state.

Speaking to TNIE, a senior official in the technical wing of the transport department ruled out the possibility of data compromise through the chip. “What the NIC is likely to access is the quality of the card developed by Colorplast and whether the company followed the Smart Card Operating System for Transport Application (SCOSTA)mandated norms. It is necessary to use the chip manufactured by Samsung, and if the same is not followed, then action could be taken against it.”

Attributing the claims to a former employer of the Delhi-based Colorplast - the company that supplies these cards to the department-Soi said that the former pointed out the use of the “fake, substandard, and non-compliant” chips by the company against the Smart Card Operating Systems for Transport Applications (SCOSTA). SCOSTA guidelines, which mandate ISO certification, have been framed by the NIC, which falls under the Union Ministry of Electronics and IT.

Around July 2023, Colorplast India Pvt. Ltd. was awarded a one-year tender by the state government in the tender floated by the Telangana State Technology Services (TSTS) to supply pre-printed PVC 64K SCOSTA smart cards.

“It was the lowest bidder to provide a smart card for around Rs 32,” said the official. Prior to Colorplast, the supplier of smart cards to the department was city-based Kyros Soft Tech Ltd. Soi, who is also the former vice chairman, PSRSC, Department of Transport, alleged that the chips being used in these smart cards are available at a meagre amount of Rs 2 to Rs 3, while the SCOSTA-compliant chips would cost around Rs 26 to Rs 27. Substantiating his data breach allegation, Soi told TNIE, “Basic details that are stored in the microprocessors of these chips of the RC and DL are more than enough for hackers. In the past, the US defense system’s smart cards were also compromised in the same way.”

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