Category: Managing Threats & Attacks

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#WashYourCyberHands
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Privacy Professionals download COVIDSafe App
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It’s Trace Time! The COVIDSafe App is open for business – Part I
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A phishing pandemic (and offensive): Part III
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A phishing pandemic – Part II
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Not So Zoomy: Use of Videoconferencing Technology “Zoom” on the Rise, but Privacy and Data Security Inadequacies suggest Users should Tread Carefully
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A phishing pandemic – Part I
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Watching Me, Watching You: Chinese Surveillance Cameras Banned in South Australia amidst Security Concerns
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Front and Centre: Privacy makes Front-Page, without a breach!
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You’ve got mail…and lots of it according to the latest OAIC report!

#WashYourCyberHands

By Cameron Abbott and Keely O’Dowd

There has never been a better time to #WashYourCyberHands.

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the perfect breeding ground for cyber criminals to capitalise on, and exploit the outbreak of the virus to steal data, commit fraud and circulate online scams. Law enforcement agencies and the cybersecurity industry have seen an increase in the number of targeted cyberattacks by criminals since the outbreak began.

INTERPOL has announced it is launching a global campaign to raise awareness about the top coronavirus related cyber threats throughout the globe. The campaign will provide basic cyber hygiene advice to businesses and individuals on how to ‘wash your cyber hands’ and protect systems and data from cyber threats.

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Privacy Professionals download COVIDSafe App

By Cameron Abbott, Warwick Andersen, Rob Pulham, Michelle Aggromito and Allison Wallace

A number of legal professionals, with significant experience in the field of privacy law, have signed an open letter to encourage individuals to download the Commonwealth Government’s COVIDSafe App.

Among the privacy lawyers are members of K&L Gates own Australian privacy team (and the authors of this blog post) Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham, Warwick Andersen, Michelle Aggromito and Allison Wallace.

The open letter is signed by members in their personal capacity, and signals that people who care about privacy a lot can still think that supporting the health and economic objectives of the App is more important at this time.

As at the date of this post, more than 5 million people have downloaded the App, with more needed to reach the Commonwealth Government’s target of 40% of the Australian population.

It’s Trace Time! The COVIDSafe App is open for business – Part I

By Cameron Abbott, Warwick Andersen, Rob Pulham and Michelle Aggromito

The Commonwealth Government released its COVIDSafe App for download at 6.00pm AEST on Sunday 26 April, and it surpassed 1.13 million downloads within the first 12 hours. This was far greater than expectations, with Health Minister Greg Hunt commenting that, at best, the hope was that “we might get to 1 million in five days.”

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A phishing pandemic (and offensive): Part III

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham, Michelle Aggromito and Rebecca Gill

As noted in part I of this blog, various reports have highlighted the significant increase in phishing scams in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, there has been an increase in coronavirus-related emails and SMS messages that are embedded with malicious links or documents, created for the purposes of stealing personal information (among other things), usually for financial gain. In order to stop the spread (pardon the pun) of such virus-inspired phishing scams, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) has confirmed that it has launched an offensive against malicious attackers located offshore.

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A phishing pandemic – Part II

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham, Michelle Aggromito and Rebecca Gill

In part 1 of this blog, we highlighted the increase in phishing scams in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In this part 2, we discuss some practical tips that organisations can implement to mitigate the heightened risks of falling prey to such scams.

So, where to begin? You may have seen a recently published alert on the K&L Gates Hub: Responding to COVID-19 series, which provides high level ideas and tips for organisations when implementing remote working procedures for their employees. In particular, organisations should consider implementing:

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Not So Zoomy: Use of Videoconferencing Technology “Zoom” on the Rise, but Privacy and Data Security Inadequacies suggest Users should Tread Carefully

By Cameron Abbott, Warwick Andersen, Rob Pulham and Max Evans

As the world grinds to a halt following the perpetuation of COVID-19, more and more businesses have turned to remote work arrangements. This has led to a sharp rise in the use of videoconferencing technology Zoom. However, as the Australian Financial Review notes, flawed data security and privacy practices mean that the use of Zoom could be disastrous for corporate and personal privacy.

Concerns surrounding the use of Zoom arose earlier this year, with critical security vulnerabilities enabling hackers to predict Meeting ID’s and therefore join active meetings, and also allowing any website to forcibly join a user to a Zoom call with their video camera activated and without the user’s permission. Whilst a number of these errors were patched up, as the article notes, Zoom refused to disable the ability for hackers to forcibly join to a call anyone visiting a malicious site, raising security red flags and undermining public confidence in Zoom’s attitude towards data security. A strange response given that part of its attraction had been a perceived stronger approach to security.

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A phishing pandemic – Part I

By Cameron Abbott, Michelle Aggromito and Rebecca Gill

It’s upsetting to report, but should come as no surprise, that scammers are seeking to take advantage of organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch website reports that phishing attacks are on the rise, with scammers impersonating the World Health Organisation and other agencies. Scams include anything from offering victims a vaccine for COVID-19 to investment opportunities created by the pandemic.

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Watching Me, Watching You: Chinese Surveillance Cameras Banned in South Australia amidst Security Concerns

By Cameron Abbott and Max Evans

Following Australia’s latest round of expanded 5G restrictions, the South Australian Government has made a decision to remove all close circuit surveillance cameras made by a Chinese surveillance giant from health department buildings, according to an article by the Sydney Morning Herald.

The article notes that the relevant cameras are made by the partially state-owned Chinese surveillance technology company Hikvision, which was blacklisted in October 2019 by the United States for their alleged role in human rights violations and in purporting to create a surveillance network amongst federal agencies. Issues with Hikvision in South Australia were first identified in the course of a Commonwealth-funded trial in which Hikvision cameras were to be used in the rooms of aged care residents as a means to improve overall safety.

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Front and Centre: Privacy makes Front-Page, without a breach!

By Cameron Abbott, Warwick Andersen, Rob Pulham and Max Evans

Privacy lawyers have been waiting for this day for years (some of us decades). Privacy is on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, despite there being no actual data breach. According to the article, Alinta Energy, one of the Australia’s biggest energy companies, is putting the privacy of its over 1.1 million retail gas and electricity customers at risk through poor privacy protections and a lack of proper oversight.

While this is an interesting piece of investigative journalism, what is really interesting is that privacy is now newsworthy even in the absence of a data breach.  It has been a long time coming but it seems society now rates privacy as front page news.  As our lawyers have already been pointing out in giving presentations this year – privacy has finally hit the big time!

You’ve got mail…and lots of it according to the latest OAIC report!

By Cameron Abbott and Michelle Aggromito

With email being one of the most common forms of communication, it’s not surprising that inboxes these days accumulate thousands of emails that, perhaps, aren’t always electronically filed or deleted (not ours of course).

As the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has indicated in its most recent report on notifications received under the Notifiable Data Breach (NBD) scheme, email accounts are frequently being used for storage, and this raises inherent risk. Yes it’s convenient, but using email to send personal information, such as copies of passports, bank account details and credit card information, can very quickly lose its appeal. If the email account is accessed by a malicious actor through a phishing attack or a rogue employee, the end result can be exploitation of that information for criminal gain.

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