India’s Aadhaar is the largest biometric identity system in history, designed to help deliver subsidies, benefits, and services to India’s 1.36 billion residents. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is responsible for providing each resident (not each citizen) with a distinct identity—a 12-digit Aadhaar number—using their biometric and demographic details.
We produce the first comprehensive description of the Aadhaar infrastructure, collating information across thousands of pages of public documents and releases, as well as direct discussions with Aadhaar developers. Critically, we describe the first known cryptographic issue within the system, and discuss how a workaround prevents it from being exploitable at scale. Further, we categorize and rate various security and privacy limitations and the corresponding threat actors, examine the legitimacy of alleged security breaches, and discuss improvements and mitigation strategies. (This was published at Financial Crypto 2022.)