On 16 January 2021, India launched the largest vaccination drive under the vision of Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Technology has played a crucial role in bringing the idea of universal vaccination closer to reality. The CoWIN platform has been developed to be the digital nerve centre of India’s COVID-19 vaccination process. However, with evolving technology and the country’s large population, some challenges need to be addressed.
To initiate a dialogue on how technologies such as the CoWIN platform can propel the vaccination drive towards the ultimate goal of Universal Vaccination, Center for ICT for Development (CICTD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi and The Dialogue organized a panel discussion on “Strengthening CoWIN Platform towards Universal Vaccination” on 16 June 2021. To set the context for the deliberation, IMPRI’s team began the session by providing a brief overview of the CoWIN platform, its features, challenges and steps taken by the government.
Shri Amit Dubey, Founder, India Future Foundation; National Cyber Security Expert, began his address with a note of appreciation for the CoWIN team stating that changes that should take months have been incorporated within days. From a security point of view, he explained that perceptions are as important as the creation of secure applications and infrastructure. He further argued that today there is a certain amount of confidence exuded by the public, and it is much harder to mislead them with misinformation.
In this regard, the public’s confidence, according to him, is a hallmark of the credibility bestowed upon organizations behind the creation of CoWIN. He also elaborated upon how in creating a secure platform, the challenges of flexibility arise wherein transparency has to be balanced with privacy. In reference to the CoWIN platform, he argues that the data is encrypted and proper privilege access management is ensured. However, he also sheds light on how the risks of malware necessitate regular security checks.
To conclude, he stated that the CoWIN platform is secure, and it passes all security assessments better than some private enterprises. Therefore from a security perspective, the platform has no issues. However, the primary challenge is keeping the public perception intact over a long period, especially when security is a continuous process. He argues that vested parties will attempt to create distrust and such attempts need to be foiled through the institution of monitoring bodies.
From the point of view of security, Mr Dubey argued that it’s crucial to recognize that the security process is an evolving phenomenon, and there invariably will be new challenges and actors that would deliberately target.