CyberWatch: Australia

Insight on how cyber risk is being mitigated and managed in Australia and across the globe.

 

1
Privacy Commissioner investigates alleged sale of telco customer information
2
Mirai Botnet knocks Liberia offline
3
Boards Push Insurers to Quantify Cyber Risks
4
Data breach penalties could cost U.K. companies £122B in 2018
5
Threat from hackers against Internet of Things grows
6
Australian organisations hit by thousands of significant cyber incidents
7
Victorian ruling clarifies application of privacy principles to social media accounts
8
UK telecoms company handed record fine for data breach
9
ABS blames IBM for Census fail in damning report
10
Volkswagen, Israeli experts to establish automotive cybersecurity company

Privacy Commissioner investigates alleged sale of telco customer information

By Cameron Abbott and Allison Wallace

Australia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim is making enquiries into allegations that the personal information of customers of three Australian telcos is being sold online.

Fairfax uncovered an alleged rort involving ‘corrupt insiders’ at the offshore call centres of Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, which has allegedly seen details including customers’ addresses, dates of birth and billing statements leaked to at least one private company in India, which is then allegedly selling the information for up to $1000.

Commissioner Pilgrim has said in a statement that he is working to determine what further action may need to be taken.

All three telcos have also released statements, reiterating that they take the privacy of their customers seriously. Vodafone and Optus have met with the AFP, which has now passed the matter on to Indian authorities.

Mirai Botnet knocks Liberia offline

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

After launching attacks on security expert Brian Krebs and the servers at Dyn, it appears as though the Mirai botnet has knocked the entire country of Liberia offline. Yes the country.  Given the paucity of protections on the Internet of Things with even weaker controls on adequate passwords, Mirai has a powerful base to co-opt and launch from.  That said a country is no mean achievement, albeit only with a population of 4.5 million and fewer than 10% of its citizens having internet access, the target was a small one. However, it is possible this attack is only the beginning for a new display of Mirai botnet’s capabilities. The attack peaked at a 500Gbps, a relatively modest figure when compared with the Dyn and Brian Krebs attacks.

Judging from the quick succession of recent attacks, we won’t be waiting long before we see another target of this highly effective botnet. Forbes has covered this in more detail here.

Boards Push Insurers to Quantify Cyber Risks

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

US risk management firm Advisen recently held the Cyber Risk Insights Conference where insurers, brokers, corporate risk managers and CSOs came together to discuss the importance of company CFOs quantifying cybersecurity risks. Panelists included the risk managers of Merck and Time, who both classified cybersecurity risk exposure as a top danger faced by corporations. Time’s risk management department, for example, is working to quantify the company’s exposure to cyber attacks so that it can transfer some of the risks to insurers. However, Time’s director of risk management says culling all cyber-risk-management information together in a meaningfully predictive way is a challenging task.

Furthermore, gaining assistance from insurers about how to quantitatively define cybersecurity risk is also problematic as the insurance industry is only getting started on truly understanding how to forecast cyber losses. Cyber security practice leader for insurance broker Lockton Cos, Ben Beeson has revealed that insurers have only really become aware of the vast extent of loss that can eventuate when handling personal data this year. Keeping up with incredibly evolving and dynamic cybersecurity threats is sure to be an immense challenge for insurers. Read more here.

Data breach penalties could cost U.K. companies £122B in 2018

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

U.K. businesses could face up to £122 billion in penalties for data breaches when EU legislation comes into effect in 2018, according the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will introduce fines for groups of companies of to €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, significantly higher than the current maximum of £500,000. This means that if data breaches remain at 2015 levels, the fines paid to the European regulator could see a near 90-fold increase, from £1.4 billion in 2015 to £122 billion, the PCI SSC calculated. For large U.K. organisations, this could see regulatory fines for data breaches soar to £70 billion, more than a 130-fold increase, rising to an average of £11 million per organisation. Regulatory fines for SMEs could see a 57-fold increase, rising to £52 billion, averaging £13,000 per SME. Read more at ComputerWeekly.com by clicking here.

 

Threat from hackers against Internet of Things grows

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

New research by Akamai Technologies has revealed that cyber criminals have cracked into as many as two million Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices at homes and businesses. IoT devices are products that connect to the internet, which now include refrigerators, sound systems, televisions and home security systems. In the report, researchers state that “Once malicious users access the web administration console of these device they can then compromise the device’s data and in some cases, take over the machine.” This report sheds much needed light on one of the most under-focused on areas of cyber security. Read the report here.

Australian organisations hit by thousands of significant cyber incidents

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

The Australian Cyber Security Centre’s (ACSC) 2016 Threat Report has revealed that Australian businesses and government have been subject to more than 15,000 significant incidents that they know of. Read the report here. They were the first to admit that given reporting is optional they cannot really determine the full impact.

Due to the current reporting regime, the ACSC has had to rely on data from callouts to CERT Australia (the national first responder to cyber incidents) to assess the extent of the problem in the private sector. CERT Australia responded to 14,804 incidents from the private sector from June 2015 to June 2016. Of those callouts, 418 involved systems of national interest and critical infrastructure. The banking, finance, energy and communications sectors were the most heavily targeted.

While the Government has introduced a bill to mandate serious data breach notification that is set to be passed in the near future (find out more about the bill here), until then, we will continue to go mostly unaware of damaging malicious cyber activity launched against Australian organisations because the private sector largely refuses report these incidents.

Victorian ruling clarifies application of privacy principles to social media accounts

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

The Victorian Supreme Court recently confirmed that an employer was not obliged to immediately notify an employee that it was accessing her Facebook messages during a disciplinary investigation. This case clarifies the manner in which the Victorian Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) apply to social media.

In this case, an employer conducted an investigation into an employee after a colleague reported her for making a number of abusive remarks over Facebook. During the investigation, the employer accessed the employee’s Facebook messages without her knowledge. She was subsequently found guilty of misconduct and given a final warning.

The employee appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Victoria after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) found that her employer had complied with the IPPs. In her appeal, she questioned whether the ways her employer collected and used the information was necessary “for the purposes of a workplace disciplinary investigation” and whether accessing it without her knowledge or consent was “necessary for one or more of the organisations functions or activities’ for the purposes of IPP 1.1”.

The Supreme Court of Victoria confirmed VCAT’s finding that collecting further information was necessary under IPP 1.1 as the employer was conducting a misconduct investigation “which was a legitimate purpose” and said there was nothing to suggest its approach was inconsistent with the right to privacy. Furthermore, the court found that VCAT was correct in finding that IPP 1.3 (and 1.5) did not impose an obligation of immediate notification on the employer as it could have jeopardised the integrity of the disciplinary investigation. Access the IPPs here. and read the court’s decision here.

Importantly, this case demonstrates that privacy law doesn’t automatically prevent employers from accessing the social media accounts of their employees to conduct investigations in appropriate circumstances.

UK telecoms company handed record fine for data breach

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

Major UK telecoms company, TalkTalk has been fined £400,000 for failing to adequately safeguard personal data when they were hacked in October 2015. The Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) investigation revealed that hackers obtained the details of 156,959 customers, including names, addresses, birthdates, phone numbers and email addresses. In over 15,000 cases, hackers even gained access to bank account details and sort codes. The cyber-attack triggered the launch of a committee inquiry into protection of personal data online. You can read the inquiry report here.

After in depth investigation, the ICO found that TalkTalk’s failure to implement even the most basic cyber security measures allowed hackers to easily penetrate its systems causing substantial damage and distress to its customers. See how the investigation unfolded here and read the ICO’s penalty notice here. The ICO identified TalkTalk’s principal errors as failing to actively monitor its own activities and allowing vulnerabilities to go unnoticed, failing to update its database to protect from bugs, failing to respond to two previous attacks on the same webpages and failing to fix a bug in the software for which a fix was readily available.

It would seem regulators are losing patience with organizations that don’t take their security obligations seriously.

ABS blames IBM for Census fail in damning report

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has blamed the 2016 Census website failure on IBM in a damning Senate inquiry submission. ABS chief statistician David Kalisch said the infrastructure offered by IBM did not adequately prepare for “not unusual” and “anticipated” denial of service attacks on Census night, which ultimately caused the site to be taken down for security reasons. You can read the submission, which was made available online by The Guardian here.

Volkswagen, Israeli experts to establish automotive cybersecurity company

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

The increasing connectivity of modern cars has enhanced the modern driving experience beyond what we could imagine only a few decades ago. However, with increasing connectivity comes an increasing risk. Features such as autonomous and intelligent parking and driving systems have increased the number of interfaces in vehicles and therefore the risk of malicious attack. To demonstrate how easily vehicles can be targeted, last year, two hackers developed a tool that can hijack a Jeep remotely over the internet. You can watch the remote hacking of the Jeep featured by WIRED here.

In response to this growing threat, Volkswagen along with three Israeli experts and their team are jointly establishing an automotive cyber security company. The newly founded CYMOTIVE Technologies will develop advanced cyber security for next generation connected cars. CYMOTIVE has announced that it aims to take an innovative and strategic approach to the significant technological challenges that will face the connected car and the development of the autonomous car in the future.

 

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