An unknown person used the log-in credentials of a police officer posted at the passport branch of Mumbai Police’s Special Branch (2), logged into the online passport verification system managed by the central government and completed the verification process of three passports applications, based on which the Mumbai Regional Passport Office (RPO) makes a decision on issuing a passport.
Based on a complaint from a police inspector posted at SB (2), an FIR was registered by the Azad Maidan police station on October 7. After a person makes an application to get a passport and submits his/her details on the passport seva website, police verification is conducted by local police and a police verification report (PVR) is submitted to SB (2), which further reviews it and gives it a verification tick. It then forwards the application with remarks to the RPO, which decides if the passport is to be granted or denied.
For this purpose, the central government has provided an online verification system and created a log-in id for all the officials posted in the passport branch, who carry out the verification work. The officers set a password and keep their log-in ids protected.
The unknown person hacked into the online passport verification system on September 24, when the Special Branch (2) office was shut due to a government holiday. The unknown hacker managed to get the log-in id and password of one of the officers and logged into the system. The hacker then completed the verification process for three persons, one in the jurisdiction of Antop Hill police station, one in the jurisdiction of Chembur police station and one in the jurisdiction of Tilak Nagar police station.
Incidentally, in the case of Tilak Nagar police, SB (2) had asked them to upload the PVR of the applicant and the process was pending with Tilak Nagar police. After the incident came to light, precautionary measures have been taken and an FIR has been registered against the unknown accused.
Police have checked CCTV cameras in the office but are yet to get any leads.