Archive: September 1, 2016

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Bitcoin operators exposed to cyber threats
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Ashley Madison data breach joint findings released

Bitcoin operators exposed to cyber threats

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

Reuters has reported that a third of bitcoin trading platforms have been hacked, and nearly half have closed since they entered the scene 6 years ago. This increasing risk for bitcoin holders is compounded by the fact there is no depositor’s insurance to absorb the loss. That approach heightens cybersecurity risks and also exposes the fact that bitcoin investors have little choice but to do business with under-capitalized exchanges.

This issue was evident when Bitfinex was hacked earlier this month and an estimated $70 million in bitcoin was stolen. The virtual bank’s customers were forced to share the losses resulting in a generalized loss percentage of 36.067%. Read our blog post on this hacking here.

Experts say trading venues acting like banks such as Bitfinex will remain vulnerable. These exchanges act as custodial wallets in which they control users’ digital currencies like banks control customer deposits. However, unlike their brick-and-mortar counterparts, when customers’ bitcoin accounts are hacked, there is currently no third party that can step in to deal with the theft. As a result, these underfunded exchanges require nearly perfect security.

Given this it is not surprising that certain governments around the world are exploring the possibility of central bank issued digital currencies using distributed ledger technology which could compete with the private digital currency systems such as bitcoin. Read more on this here.

Ashley Madison data breach joint findings released

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim and The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Daniel Therrien have released a joint report on the data breach of cheating website Ashley Madison which affected approximately 36 million Ashley Madison user accounts last year. Read our post on the breach here.

Controversially, despite the company not having a physical presence in Australia, the Commissioners found that Ashley Madison’s parent company Avid Life Media (ALM) was regulated as an “APP entity” due to the fact that it carried on business and collected personal information in Australia. This finding was based on the fact that ALM conducted marketing in Australia, targeted Australian residents for its services and collected the personal information of Australians.

ALM agreed to a number of enforceable undertakings to the Commissioner. Amongst other things, ALM has undertaken to augment its security framework, provide extensive security training for staff and cease its practice of retaining the information of users with deleted, deactivated or inactive accounts. Consistent with the trend in undertakings it requires independent verification of certain compliance steps. Find the undertakings here.

It also seeks to address the accuracy of the records, which is a challenge for a cheating website. Letting someone sign up using for example Tony Blair’s email address captured the attention of the regulators. They focused on the interests under Privacy laws of those whose email addresses were falsely added to the sign up. A confirming email with an option to opt out was not considered an adequate measure.

Read more about the report here.

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