7 September 2020

News round-up Sept 2020 — Thousands of licence details exposed online, HeathEngine to pay $2.9mil, and more

Helping your business stay abreast and make sense of the critical stories in digital risk, cyber security and privacy. Email news@elevenM.com.au to subscribe.

The round-up

It’s a veritable smorgasbord – our latest roundup includes incidents traversing cloud security, phishing, extortion, distributed denial of service attacks and insider threat. We also look at a particularly egregious breach of trust by a healthcare website.

Key articles:

Data breach exposes tens of thousands of NSW driver’s licences online

Summary: A cache containing about 54,000 NSW drivers licences was found online by a Ukrainian security consultant. The data was linked to an unnamed private business that apparently failed to configure privacy settings appropriately on cloud storage.

Key risk takeaway: As we reported in May, misconfigurations of cloud services is one of the rising reasons behind data breaches – and so it has come to pass that tens of thousands of NSW drivers have been outed. The story here is a little more complex though, as it’s the NSW Government that has come under scrutiny for a lack of disclosure and notification to impacted residents – even though it was an unaffiliated third-party commercial operator that made the security bungle. It illustrates the complexity of responding to a data breach in the era of third-party data sharing, and the complex expectations that define what is trustworthy behaviour. Scenario planning can go a long way to being prepared for these contingencies and having well-thought out responses.

Tags: #cloudsecurity #notification

HealthEngine to pay $2.9 million for misleading reviews and patient referrals

Summary: Health directory and online booking site HealthEngine has been ordered to pay $2.9m in penalties after admitting that it disclosed personal information of over 135,000 patients to third party private health insurance brokers without adequately disclosing this to customers.

Key risk takeaway: Privacy Officers now need to consider consumer law risks when reviewing or drafting any communications or notices about how customer information will be handled. Failure to clearly communicate how personal information will be used and disclosed may amount to misleading and deceptive conduct (whether or not it also breaches the Australian Privacy Principles). The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has become increasingly active in the privacy space since the conclusion of its Digital Platforms Inquiry in June 2019. HealthEngine may be the first casualty of this new focus on consumer privacy harms, but it’s unlikely to be the last. The Commission currently has two separate cases pending against Google alleging misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to privacy, and ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says there are plenty more in the works.

Tags: #ACCC #ACL #Privacy #Penalties

New Zealand Stock Exchange suffers day four disruption following DDoS attacks

Summary: A distributed denial of service (DDoS) that hit the exchange halted trading and prevented the publishing of market updates.

Key risk takeaway: So-called “DDoS extortions” have been around for a few years, but the recent attacks are being seen as among the most dangerous and targeted. The attack on NZX was one of many reported DDoS attacks against global financial service providers, with the criminal gang responsible demanding Bitcoin payments as extortion fees to stop their attacks. Where DDoS in the past has targeted public websites, a particular characteristic of recent attacks is the targeting of back end infrastructure, which can be potentially more disruptive. DDOS mitigation services should be considered for any business, particularly those with a high profile (where a website outage would be particularly damaging) or those that operate critical online services (where even a short outage would have substantial impact).

Tags: #ddos #cybercrime

SANS shares details on attack that led to their data breach

Summary: SANS Institute suffered a data breach after an employee fell for a phishing attack, resulting in more than 500 emails containing approximately 28,000 records of personal information being forwarded to attackers.

Key risk takeaway: SANS is a leading provider cyber security training for organisations around the world, so perhaps the lesson from its breach is, rather humbly, “there but for the grace of god, go I.” The attack draws on a rising phishing attack method – OAUTH phishing – where targeted users receive what looks like a legitimate shared document. Upon clicking the email request, they are typically asked to provide their credentials (eg to O365) and grant various permissions to a third-party app. This grants access to the app’s developer/owner – which is an attacker. Read more about OAUTH app examples here, ironically on a SANS discussion forum. Options to defend against this form of attack include preventing employees from being able to install unverified OAUTH apps and, of course, testing staff ability to detect this form of phishing via phishing simulations.

Tags: #phishing #oauth

Former Uber Security Chief Charged With Concealing Hack

Summary: Uber’s former head of security has been charged with attempting to conceal a hack that exposed the email addresses and phone numbers of 57 million drivers and passengers.

Key risk takeaway: CISOs around the world may be sleeping a little less comfortably, with the action brought by US prosecutors underscoring how much personal accountability is carried by those running security functions. At the heart of the criminal complaint is that former Uber CSO Joe Sullivan failed to disclose a major breach to regulators in 2016, even as it was being investigated for an earlier breach. A particularly notable callout by the prosecution team was that the “cover-up” prevented law enforcement learning about the hackers and being in a position to disrupt their activities – which included going on to “hack other companies in a way similar to what they had done to Uber”. This suggests that authorities view a company’s responsibility to disclose breaches not only in terms of its duty to its own customers, but also in terms of its important to protecting the broader economy.

Tags: #CISO #crisisplanning #cybercrime

A Tesla Employee Thwarted an Alleged Ransomware Plot

Summary: A Tesla employee rejected a US$1m offer to install malware on Tesla’s network, reporting the bribe to Tesla instead.

Key risk takeaway: Insider threat is perhaps one of the less covered threats to organisations’ systems and data – perhaps this story might lift it in prominence given the hype and attention usually associated with Elon’s electric enterprise. The story affirms the willingness of cybercriminals to coax their way into a network in any way possible – whether through sophisticated technical or cyber means or more old-fashioned coaxing and cajoling. Insider threats of the malicious (versus accidental) kind are challenging to defend against. Technical measures include strong access controls and monitoring (especially for critical systems) and data loss prevention tools. Equally important are human measures such as background checks, and creating a culture in which employees feel comfortable reporting anomalous behaviour.

Tags: #insiderthreat