Category: Privacy, Data Protection & Information Management

1
Cybersecurity: location, location, location
2
Encryption bill to give unprecedented power
3
Marriott Hotel – time to change your passwords!
4
China in breach of cyber-security pact
5
China’s main security agency linked to cyber intellectual property theft
6
Beware of third party data breaches
7
US, Russia and China don’t pledge to fight cybercrime
8
Q3 Notifiable breaches industry league results: Health first … lawyers a solid third!
9
Cyber-attackers could exploit security flaw found in the embedded video function of Microsoft Word
10
Apple calls for comprehensive US privacy laws.

Cybersecurity: location, location, location

Authors: Cameron Abbott and Sara Zokaei Fard

According to a report published by BitSight on 4 December 2018, “Are the New European Cybersecurity Regulations Working?”, Europe is one of the only exceptions to a global decline in security performance. There are regular occurrences of cybersecurity compromises around the world, with some sectors such as Technology consistently performing weaker than others. Companies in the Finance sector continue to be the world’s strongest cybersecurity performers, due to their high regulative overlay. While “continental cybersecurity performance continues to decline”, in Europe, cybersecurity performance is improving to an extent unlike any other continent in the world.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) officially went into effect in the European Union in May 2018. The GDPR is a landmark European Union law, that sets significant punitive fines at up to 4% of global revenue if organisations do not implement a broad set of cybersecurity requirements in certain circumstances. In the months following the implementation of the GDPR, European security performance has consistently improved and now significantly surpasses all other continents. In this same time frame, Oceania’s cybersecurity performance has spiralled downwards.

BitSight states “the chorus for GDPR-style regulation is growing internationally”. The statistics certainly support this.  However others argue that countries like the US demonstrate significant competitive advantage in developing highly valuable big data and social media intellectual property because of the lower regulatory environment encouraging innovators.  The value to economies of these industry segments is significant.

Encryption bill to give unprecedented power

By Cameron Abbott and Wendy Mansell

The Coalition government is attempting to pass large-scale decryption reforms which will give sweeping powers to law enforcement agencies for overt and covert computer access.

The reforms have caused significant controversy as they may force tech companies and communications providers to modify their services, creating “systemic weaknesses” for intelligence agencies to exploit. However many point out these same vulnerabilities may be utilised by criminals.

Further the potential repercussions of these reforms may undermine consumers’ privacy, safety and trust through unprecedented access to private communications. This could have anti-competitive effects, as the reputations of Australian software developers and hardware manufacturers will suffer within international markets.

At the same time, the harsh reality that terrorists and organised crime increasingly utilise these technologies to evade surveillance highlights a very clear problem for law enforcement authorities.

We won’t seek to suggest where the balance between these interests should lie, but the debate rages on. Stay tuned.

Marriott Hotel – time to change your passwords!

Authors: Cameron Abbott and Keely O’Dowd

 On Friday, 30 November 2018 the Marriott Hotel announced that it had suffered a data breach, we are all getting a little numb to large breaches but this one is one of the biggest in recent times.

The Marriott revealed that over a four year period, up to approximately 500 million guests who made a reservation using the Starwood reservation system for a hotel within the Marriott umbrella on or before 10 September 2014 may have had their data compromised. For approximately 327 million guests, information that may have been comprised includes a combination of name, address, phone number, email address, password, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, gender, payment card numbers, arrival and departure information, reservation date and communication preferences.

Most hotel booking/POS systems have been attacked in recent years and these attacks have proven difficult to detect and trace through to understand the impact, it takes time and significant resources.  If you have used the Starwood reservation system – it is a good time to change the password and update passwords anywhere else you use those same or similar credentials.

China in breach of cyber-security pact

By Cameron Abbott and Wendy Mansell

It has been a fairly turbulent week in the cyber-espionage space following accusations that China’s Ministry of Security Services is behind the surge of intellectual property theft from Australian companies.

The news that the persistent attacks on Australian IP are perhaps a State sponsored campaign by the Chinese government is concerning as it suggests that China are in breach of several international and bilateral agreements.

In 2015, an agreement was made between Chinese President Xi Jinping and former President Obama, that the U.S and China would not steal intellectual property from one another for commercial gain. This was furthered at the November 2015, G20 Summit, where the cyber-theft of IP was accepted as the norm.

Following on from this in September 2017, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Chinese Premier Li Kequiang promised that neither country would engage in cyber-theft of intellectual property and commercial secrets.

Reports of cyber-theft declined immediately after these agreements, however in recent months they have ramped up again.

A U.S Trade Representative report released this week confirms that despite any international agreements, China has continued engaging in cyber-espionage and the theft of intellectual property. Further the report states that not only is China likely to be in breach of these agreements, but the attacks have “increased in frequency and sophistication”.

Notably in July of this year, China was linked to the cyber-breach of Australian National University. This attack was particularly disturbing given that ANU is a leading university involved in key areas of Australian technological, scientific, defence and commercial research.  It is fascinating that cyber attacks and theft are a “norm” that is accepted within our overall international relationships.  Physical acts of a similar nature would not be so easily accepted.

China’s main security agency linked to cyber intellectual property theft

By Cameron Abbott and Wendy Mansell

In April 2017, PWC, in collaboration with BAE Systems’ published a report on “Operation Cloud Hopper”, which exposed a cyber espionage campaign being conducted by a China-based threat actor. The report suggests that Operation Cloud Hopper is almost certainly the same threat actor known as “APT10”, a Chinese group thought to be behind cyber-attacks against many countries including Japan, Canada and America.

Recently it has been reported that there are links between China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) and Operation Cloud Hopper. These allegations are from U.S based firm CrowdStrike who have recognised ties between Operation Cloud Hopper and the MSS Tianjin Bureau.

There is no confirmation that the MSS is behind the Cloud Hopper attacks, however Dr Adrian Nish, Head of Threat of Intelligence at BAE Systems said that there is “no reason to doubt” the claims.

The term “Cloud Hopper” describes a technique where cyber espionage groups “hop” from cloud storage services and infiltrate Australian IT systems. Operation Cloud Hopper is responsible for the theft of intellectual property from a number of Australian companies, primarily focused on mining, engineering and professional services firms.

In a week full of news about China activities in the region, the suggestion of state sponsored hacking thefts is a salient warning to companies that their core intellectual property assets are at risk if not well secured.

 

Beware of third party data breaches

By Cameron Abbott and Keely O’Dowd

A study by Ponemon Institute found the percentage of US and UK companies that faced a data breach because of a vendor or third party is growing. In the US alone, 61% of surveyed respondents confirmed that their organisation had experienced a data breach caused by a third party, which is up 5% from last year and 12% from 2016.

Ponemon Institute’s research also found that 22% of surveyed respondents admitted they did not know if they had a third party data breach during the past 12 months and more than three quarter of companies thought third-party cyber security breaches were increasing.

These research findings suggest to us that businesses must do more to guard against third party data breach risks. This may involve:

  • conducting due diligence on third party vendors to assess their security and privacy practices as part of a procurement process and throughout the ongoing vendor relationship;
  • including robust privacy and data security clauses in contracts with third parties, including the requirement that the third party notify you of actual and suspected data breaches; and
  • keeping a register of all third party vendors your business engages and the types of personal, sensitive of confidential information the third party vendors accesses, stores or shares on behalf of your business.

The third party landscape is becoming increasingly complex and businesses need to better manage and understand what exactly their vendors are up to and doing to protect their data.

US, Russia and China don’t pledge to fight cybercrime

By Cameron Abbott and Wendy Mansell

Fifty countries including Japan, Canada and many EU nations have come together with over 150 tech companies, pledging to fight against cybercrime. United State’s tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft have also joined the party.

The United States, Russia and China however have decided not to sign on. Each has no doubt very different reasons for this – the disappointment is mostly directed to the US. However it is a shame that Russia and China did not also feel the weight of the international community pressure to accept these principles.

The effort to combat cybercrime is being led by France, with French President Emmanuel Macron claiming that it is urgent that the internet is better regulated.

The countries and companies involved are fighting against illegal online activity like censorship, cyber interference in elections, hate speech and trade secrets theft.

The pledge has been made in a document titled the “Paris call for trust and security in cyberspace”.

Q3 Notifiable breaches industry league results: Health first … lawyers a solid third!

By Cameron AbbottKeely O’Dowd and Colette Légeret

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has released its third quarterly report of notifiable data breaches. This is the second OAIC report to be released covering a full quarter.

The report revealed that OAIC received 245 notifications of data breaches, marginally up from 242 notifications in the second quarterly report.

Some interesting figures from the OAIC’s report are as follows:

  • 18% of notifications were from health service providers, 14% were from the finance sector; 14% were from the legal, accounting and management services sector; 7% were from the private education sector, and 5% were from the personal services sector;
  • 85% of data breaches involved individual’s contact details, 45% involved financial details, 35% involved identity details, 22% involved health details, 22% involved tax file numbers, and 7% involved other types of personal information; and
  • 57% of data breaches were due to malicious or criminal attack, with 37% due to human error, and 6% due to system faults, with cyber incidents, namely compromised credentials or phishing being the main the cause of

Of the 245 data breaches, 58 affected only one individual – however, 7 affected more than 10,000 individuals.

These figures are a clear reminder of the need to ensure that your business is equipped to deal with data breaches. To learn more about this, take a look at this 60-second video by Cameron Abbott. With professional services ranking a solid third, we’ll take some of our own advice too!

Cyber-attackers could exploit security flaw found in the embedded video function of Microsoft Word

By Cameron Abbott and Colette Légeret

Cymulate, a leading provider of Breach and Attack Simulation solutions and a Gartner 2018 Cool Vendor, announced last week that its Security Research Team had uncovered a security flaw in the Microsoft Office Suite (Office) that may affect Microsoft Word (Word) users.

The Office security flaw identified is a JavaScript code execution within the embedded video component of Word. This has the potential to impact all users of Office 2016 and users of older Office versions. Cymulate noted that no configuration was required to reproduce the issue and no security warning is presented while opening the document with Word.

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Apple calls for comprehensive US privacy laws.

By Cameron Abbott and Jessica McIntosh

It’s uncomfortable to think one of the world’s biggest business leaders has this week stood up and told us all ”our own information from the everyday to the deeply personal is being weaponized against us with military efficiency” what’s more uncomfortable, these powerful words are only a small snippet of a seriously forceful and passionate speech Tim Cook delivered in Brussels on Wednesday.

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