Category: Privacy, Data Protection & Information Management

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Former High Court judge Michael Kirby calls for privacy laws to deal with serious invasions of privacy
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Hacked accounts anyone?
3
SWIFT’s assessment of Distributed Ledger Technologies
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Australian Government releases Cyber Security Strategy
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Privacy Commissioner releases a Guide to deal with data breaches
6
Bangladesh Bank considers legal action against the NY Fed in Hollywood-esque hack
7
Nissan shakes like a LEAF and disables app after car hacking potential exposed
8
It’s official and, it’s personal – Gemalto’s 2015 results reveal scary cybercrime stats
9
Apple sends passionate message to customers following court order to hack iPhone
10
Gone in a ‘Flash’ – Google ditches Adobe for HTML5

Former High Court judge Michael Kirby calls for privacy laws to deal with serious invasions of privacy

By Cameron Abbott and Simon Ly

In a recent speech and comments made to Fairfax Media, former High Court of Australia judge Michael Kirby has taken aim at the current state of Australia’s privacy law regime in regards to serious invasions of privacy such as “revenge porn” and the kinds of privacy breaches often associated with the press.

Mr Kirby called upon the NSW parliament to legislate to protect its citizens in order to push the federal government to create a national standard. Mr Kirby’s comments follows the March 2016 report released by the NSW parliament titled “Remedies for the serious invasion of privacy in New South Wales” where the Upper House committee made a series of recommendations that a statutory cause of action be introduced in NSW that would enable people who have suffered a serious invasion of privacy to commence a civil action.

Taking an international view, this issue took the attention worldwide recently when then-ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was secretly filmed nude by a stalker while in her hotel room. Since then, Erin Andrews settled a claim with the hotel operator after having been awarded $55 million in March 2016.

For more information, please see NSW’s report here, which the government is expected to respond to by 5 September 2016.

Hacked accounts anyone?

By Cameron Abbott and Giles Whittaker

Have you been hacked? If you are the user of a Google, Yahoo or Microsoft e-mail account then it is a possibility. Alex Holden, the founder and Chief Information Officer of Hold Security who discovered the hack has identified 272.3 million account credentials have been stolen. The majority of these accounts are users of Mail.ru which is Russia’s most popular e-mail service.

57 million Mail.ru account credentials had been hacked and Mail.ru “are now checking any combinations of usernames/passwords match users’ e-mails and are still active”, from initial checks there were no live combinations.

Google and Yahoo are yet to provide any response.

This recent hack, which was performed by a young Russian hacker who is more determined to become famous than rich from his recent efforts after only asking for 50 roubles (less than $1) for the entire dataset, is one of the biggest collection of stolen credentials since the attacks on major US banks and retailers two years ago. The information which was stolen, as suggest by Holden in an interview with Reuters is “potent [and] it is floating around in the underground…which can be abused multiple times.”

Some of the stolen credentials include those for employees of large US banking, manufacturing and retail companies. When considering that 22 percent of big data breaches come from stolen online credentials (according to a recent survey of 325 computer professional) and hacks of this nature typically allow for further break-ins or phishing attacks by accessing the contacts of each hacked account, the domino effect of a hack such as this is substantial. Furthermore, individuals that like to re-use their preferred passwords across multiple accounts have exposed themselves to additional hacks.

So what is the take away message? According to Will Harwood, founder and Chief Technology Officer of Silicon SAFE, the solution as he told Infosecurity is to put the “password data in a dedicated hardware supported database that only allows data to be stored and compared, never revealed.”

For more of Will Harwood’s security suggestions and the Infosecurity article click here.

To read more about Alex Holden’s discovery of the Russian hacker click here.

SWIFT’s assessment of Distributed Ledger Technologies

By Cameron Abbott and Giles Whittaker

SWIFT and Accenture released their new paper into how Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) could be used in financial services. The outcome of their assessment highlighted 8 key gaps between industry requirements and the current DLT solutions. The 8 critical factors to be addressed before widespread adoption of DLT’s include:

  1. strong governance;
  2. data controls;
  3. compliance with regulatory requirements;
  4. standardisation;
  5. identity framework;
  6. security and cyber defence;
  7. reliability; and
  8. scalability.

The potential use of these technologies is still unclear according to Fabian Vandenreydt the Head of Securities, Innotribe and the SWIFT Institute. However SWIFT has committed to working with the industry to identify areas in which the technology can provide the greatest benefit.

For more information about SWIFT’s position on DLTs or to download a copy of the paper visit here.

Australian Government releases Cyber Security Strategy

By Cameron Abbott and Giles Whittaker

Cybersecurity appears to be a new popular expenditure, particularly in Australia, as Malcom Turnbull announces his government’s new Cyber Security Strategy initiative budgeted to cost $230 million over 4 years in addition to the $400 million allocated in the 2016 Defence White Paper over 10 years.

So what do we get for all that money? The government has announced their 5 themes of action over the next 4 years which includes:

  1. a national cyber partnership;
  2. strong cyber defences;
  3. global responsibility and influence;
  4. growth and innovation; and
  5. a cyber smart nation.

This will include the funding to establish a Cyber Security Growth Centre through a National Innovation and Science Agenda. The Growth Centre is intended to serve as an innovation hub which will identify and prioritise cybersecurity challenges and identify opportunities for Australia to build globally competitive commercial solutions.

Cybersecurity is grabbing global attention and the Turnbull government has appointment their first Cyber Ambassador. The role of the Cyber Ambassador will be to identify opportunities for practical international cooperation and ensure Australia is situated to take advantage of new commercial opportunities.

Small businesses are often left exposed to hackers due to a lack of resources allocated to cybersecurity and, are targeted for their potential provide a back door to other companies, are often targeted. Turnbull’s no business left behind strategy sees small businesses being allocated $15 million in grants to have their systems tested and improved by The Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers (CREST).

For further information access the government’s plan here.

Privacy Commissioner releases a Guide to deal with data breaches

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Simon Ly

On 11 April 2016, the Privacy Commissioner released a guide to deal with issues associated with data breaches. This is aimed at entities regulated by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) in order to assist them with complying with the Australian Privacy Principles.

When (and it is likely to be a matter of when and not if) your entity is subject to a data breach, whether it be through your system being hacked or if devices are lost or stolen, it is important that you are equipped to deal with it. It is important to get in front of such problems and have pre-prepared action plans given that it is likely that the first 24 hours will be the most crucial in determining your level of success in dealing with a data breach. Data breaches can be expensive, both in a monetary and reputational sense.

In the guide, the Privacy Commissioner highlighted that a written data breach response plan is an important tool to help deal with such issues. Such a plan should include:

  • actions to be taken if a breach is suspected, discovered or reported by a staff member, including escalation measures;
  • the members of the data breach response team; and
  • the actions the team are expected to take.

Such a plan needs to be regularly reviewed and updated, with all relevant staff kept up to date so that they know what actions they are expected to take.

The Privacy Commissioner suggests the following four steps to be taken when a data breach is discovered:

  1. contain the breach and do a preliminary assessment;
  2. evaluate the risks associated with the breach;
  3. develop a plan for notifying affected individuals and consider what information should be in any notification; and
  4. determine steps to be taken to prevent future breaches.

For more information, please feel free to contact us. You can find out more information on practical steps you can take here.

Bangladesh Bank considers legal action against the NY Fed in Hollywood-esque hack

By Cameron Abbott and Simon Ly

In a story that would make an excellent plot to a sequel to Ocean’s 13, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has been the target of a successful major cyber hack. Part of the targeted attack was an attempt to steal nearly $1 billion from Bangladesh Bank’s account.

If anyone would be well protected it would be the NY Fed, right? Well, while they were able to block some 30 transactions, 5 were successful, resulting in $81 million being stolen from Bangladesh Bank’s account.

The NY Fed has released a statement outlining that its systems were not breached, but instead pointing to SWIFT, a member-owned cooperative relied upon by banks to authenticate international monetary transactions. In response, a SWIFT representative stated that it “reiterates that the SWIFT network itself was not breached”. For its part, the NY Fed agreed that it “viewed this as a major lapse on the part of FRB NY”.

It will be fascinating to see how this he-said she-said blame game plays out. The current state of events is that the Bangladesh Bank is engaging legal counsel to establish grounds for recompense.

It goes without saying that these mind boggling figures and the nature of the attack emphasise that no one is immune from attacks. Next time someone tells you that it can’t happen to your organisation – remember this example.

For more information, please see Bloomberg’s report here.

Nissan shakes like a LEAF and disables app after car hacking potential exposed

By Cameron Abbott and Meg Aitken

Lock you doors…oh wait, that won’t protect you. Australian security researchers, Troy Hunt and Scott Helme have exposed a security flaw in Nissan’s Connect app which allows certain features of the manufacturer’s best-selling electric car, the ‘LEAF’, to literally be controlled by someone else on the other side of the world.

Hunt and Helme recently discovered that the app did not require any owner identification information in order to link with and control LEAF cars. All that was required was the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which is conveniently displayed on the chassis of the vehicle.

OK, so hackers couldn’t actually steer the car, but they could command the climate control and telematics to access driving data about trip durations, raising privacy concerns. Further, given that the LEAF is an electric powered vehicle, being able to access the climate controls could potentially allow a hacker to drain the battery and leave a driver stranded.

Car companies are racing to embrace the internet of things, and privacy and security seems to be taking a back seat. While there is no doubt that connected car technology boasts exciting functionality for drivers, it is not without road bumps, and we are once again reminded of the dangerous potential presented by interconnected devices. With a bit of luck, Nissan’s scare will see the automotive industry get in the driver’s seat towards developing a better appreciation of the risks associated with these devices and how they can be mitigated.

Nissan has now reportedly disabled the NissanConnect app and plans to release a new version once these security concerns are rectified. According to Hunt’s blog post, it took Nissan more than a month to take the app offline after he reported the security vulnerabilities.

Read Troy Hunt’s blog post on the discovery here.

It’s official and, it’s personal – Gemalto’s 2015 results reveal scary cybercrime stats

By Cameron Abbott and Meg Aitken

Never mind your credit card details, let’s worry about cybercriminals stealing your identity.

The latest Breach Level Index released by Gemalto has revealed that identity theft was the primary target of hackers in 2015, with stolen personal information accounting for 53% of all data breaches.

It’s a worry, you see, because while your credit card has inbuilt security defences and merchant protection mechanisms, your valuable personal information is probably stored in multiple locations, across a number of interfaces, in a variety of forms, exposing it to substantial risk of theft.

Not only is the massive volume of personal information that is available to be stolen a cause for alarm, but what cybercriminals can potentially do with that information is the major concern.

So who is to blame? Well, malicious outsiders were the leading source of data breaches in 2015, accounting for 58%, accidental loss of data was next and then came malicious insiders, who accounted for 14% of all data breaches.

Clearly, companies need to recognise that today’s cyber environment demands robust security strategies that not only protect networks from external attacks and accidental data loss, but also keep an eye on insiders too.

To secure against a data breach, Gemalto recommends that organisations commit to the encryption of all sensitive information, secure storage and management of data and encryption keys, and controlled access and authentication of users.

Access the Gemalto 2015 Breach Level Index Report here.

Apple sends passionate message to customers following court order to hack iPhone

By Cameron Abbott and Meg Aitken

A US District Court has ordered Apple to assist US law enforcement agents to bypass the security features, disable the auto-erase function and ultimately access the data contained within an iPhone 5C that was used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook responded to the order with an open letter to customers discussing the privacy and security implications of the order and calling for public discussion on the issue.

Read Apple’s Customer Letter here.

Access the Court Order here.

Gone in a ‘Flash’ – Google ditches Adobe for HTML5

By Cameron Abbott and Meg Aitken

Google has recently announced a plan to shift away from displaying ads built using Adobe Flash Player, instead opting for the HTML5 platform.

While the Adobe Flash plug-in technology has arguably been the premier tool for producing interactive media and animated video displays for some time, it has been criticised for employing inadequate security controls, leaving it susceptible to attacks by malware hackers.

Even Adobe itself is aware of the superior capabilities of HTML5. Adobe attempted to respond to the shift away from plug-in technology last year by rebranding the Flash Player and launching the ‘Animate CC’, which was touted as “Adobe’s premier web animation tool for developing HTML5 content while continuing to support the creation of Flash content”.

Google’s not sold, and has been blogging to encourage advertisers to convert their Flash Player ads HTML5 in order to influence a wider audience for some time, even providing ‘how to guides‘. From 30 June 2016, Google will no longer allow advertisers to upload new display ads built using Adobe Flash, and from January 2017, all ads built in the Adobe Flash format will not be supported by Google.

Access Google’s update here.

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