India's CERT-In to investigate alleged CoWIN breach; Reddit crashes as users protest API policy

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India's Health Ministry has dismissed reports of a data breach in the CoWIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network) portal, calling them "mischievous in nature," The Hindu reports. 

 

The ministry stated that the portal is safe and has adequate safeguards for data privacy. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has been asked to investigate the issue and provide a report. 

 

Electronics and Technology Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar clarified on Twitter that the CoWIN app or database was not directly breached, but rather data accessed by a Telegram bot seemed to be previously breached or stolen data from another source. The bot which was showing up details upon entering a person's mobile number has now been taken down, according to various reports. 

 

Concerns have been raised about the integration of CoWIN with other apps, such as Aarogya Setu and UMANG, which provide services for registration, appointment scheduling, and certification of COVID vaccinations. The current data breach appears to be possible by entering a person's mobile number, which would reveal sensitive information like identification numbers, gender, date of birth, and vaccination centre details, according to The Hindu. 

 

The Union Health Ministry has initiated an internal review of the security measures in place for CoWIN, and CERT-In's initial report suggests that the back-end database for the Telegram bot did not directly access the CoWIN database. 

 

Reddit experienced a widespread outage as thousands of its communities went dark to protest the company's new API policy, TechCrunch reports. The planned protest, aimed at challenging a policy that would eliminate third-party apps, caused Reddit's website to go down. Reddit initially displayed "all systems operational" on its status page, but it was later updated to reflect the outage. 

 

The protest was in response to Reddit's new API pricing policy, which would significantly increase costs for developers, leading to the closure of many third-party Reddit apps. Despite community backlash, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman defended the decision. 

 

Some communities were concerned about losing access to their preferred third-party apps, but Reddit exempted a few accessible apps from the new policy. Yesterday, thousands of subreddits participated in the protest, temporarily making their forums private. Reddit's status page indicated some improvements, but the situation is still being monitored. 

 

Salesforce has introduced its own AI Cloud, a suite of capabilities designed to improve customer experiences and company productivity through generative artificial intelligence (AI) for enterprise applications. 

 

The AI Cloud's Einstein GPT Trust Layer addresses concerns about risks associated with generative AI adoption by helping customers meet data security and compliance demands while benefiting from generative AI, Salesforce said in a press release yesterday. The Einstein GPT Trust Layer enhances trust in generative AI by separating sensitive customer data from large-language models (LLMs) and maintaining data governance controls. 

 

Einstein supports over 1 trillion predictions per week across its applications and now incorporates generative AI to boost productivity in sales, service, marketing, and commerce. 

 

The AI Cloud helps sales reps to auto-generate personalized emails, service teams to create tailored chat replies and case summaries, marketers to engage customers with personalized content, commerce teams to provide customized recommendations, and developers to auto-generate code and predict potential bugs. 

 

Salesforce aims to provide trusted and open generative AI by integrating technologies like Einstein, Data Cloud, Tableau, Flow, and MuleSoft. The AI Cloud is compatible with third-party LLMs and allows customers to use Salesforce LLMs or their own models. 

 

The AI Cloud Starter pack is available for $360,000 annually and includes essential components and an AI readiness assessment from Salesforce Professional Services. 

 

Here in Bengaluru, Stellaris Venture Partners and Entrepreneur First organized a Generative AI Hackathon in Bengaluru focused on the theme "AI for India." 

 

More than 150 participants formed 60 teams to develop innovative AI solutions for India-specific challenges. The hackathon received support from Whatfix, AWS, and LlamaIndex. Industry experts and the VC firm's partners, including Alok Goyal at Stellaris, Rahul Samat at Entrepreneur First, and startup founders Soumyadeep Mukherjee, Mansoor Khan, and Arvind Nair, served as mentors, guiding the teams to refine their ideas and create impactful solutions. 

 

Notable projects included an emergency response application, a generative video solution, and a platform for rural India to access government schemes. 

 

Uber has announced a new integration of Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa, with its Uber Eats app, developed by the company's engineers in India. The integration allows Uber Eats users in the US to track their food orders using their Amazon Echo devices. 

 

Developed by the Uber Eats engineering team in Hyderabad, this new feature enables real-time, hands-free order tracking for Echo users, according to a press release from the ride-hailing service provider.  

 

Users can choose how they receive updates through announcements from Alexa or notifications on their Echo devices. The integration with Alexa follows Uber's previous partnerships with Google Assistant and Apple's Siri for voice ordering.

 

Summary

The government of India has tasked the country's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) with investigating an alleged data breach revealing personal details of people vaccinated against Covid-19. Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted that a "Telegram bot" accessing previously stolen data was the culprit and that there was no direct breach. Reddit went down yesterday after thousands of 'sub-reddits' went dark to protest a new API policy. Also in this brief, Stellaris and Entrepreneur First ran a hackathon around generative AI