#CyberFLASH: Data lakes mean a plunge into the security pool

storageMany organizations today are convinced that collecting and hoarding data is their future: Without big data, how can they get to know their customers (and potential customers).

So as the pool of data grows bigger, the need for a way to store it becomes bigger. Often firms have silos of data, but how can that be leveraged? Hence the data lake, a large store of raw data — often built around Hadoop or cloud storage — from which analysts can dip in and create data marts/warehouses. In theory there’s a saving because data doesn’t have to be transformed into familiar formats an organization uses.

But as an article on CSO Online reminds infosec pros, data lakes need securing. After all, what could be a sweeter target than all the valuable data in one place?

“The appeal of increased agility, reduced costs and removal of silos cause many organizations to jump head first into the data lake and ignore basic information governance best practices at their own peril,” Jonathan Steenland, principal at Zyston CISO Advisory Services, is quoted as saying.

That means the standard security strategies must be top of mind. But the article quotes a Gartner analyst saying many of the current data lake technologies on the market don’t have fine-grained security controls. Until then access management, encryption, and tracking of data throughout its lifecycle in the enterprise have to be the priorities of the CISO. The protection becomes even more sensitive if the data lake is in the cloud.

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#CyberFLASH: Phoenix pay system also breached federal workers’ privacy

the-pay-centre-satellite-office-ottawa-phoenix-payA dysfunctional compensation system that’s withholding paycheques from federal workers has also been breaching their privacy, CBC News has learned.

Newly released documents show senior officials were warned as early as Jan. 18 that the new Phoenix system has a flaw that allows widespread access to employees’ personnel records, including social insurance numbers.

Despite the warning, the faulty software was broadly implemented this spring — without alerting the unions or any employees that their private details were no longer secure.

The disclosure of a massive privacy breach appears in documents obtained by CBC News under the Access to Information Act, deepening a crisis that has already touched some 80,000 public servants and triggered a wave of hiring to patch the problems.

The briefing material prepared by Public Services and Procurement Canada indicates that up to 70,000 public servants had access to the personal details of all 300,000 employees covered by the system.

A spokeswoman for Canada’s privacy commissioner confirmed the department “has reported this matter to our office and we have followed up with them.” Valerie Lawton said she could provide no further details.

The minister in charge, Judy Foote, said she learned only this week of the internal breach of private information. “I am aware of it, and I’ve been told that none of the information became public,” she said in an interview.

Over to privacy commissioner

Foote said she has turned the matter over to the privacy commissioner for investigation, and will focus on getting people paid.

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#CyberFLASH: Canadian government expects another Snowden-level leak, documents say

Surveillance_610pxOTTAWA–It’s not a matter of if there will be another Edward Snowden, it’s a matter of when, according to internal government documents obtained by the Star.

Global Affairs officials warned minister Stéphane Dion in November an event on the scale of Snowden’s disclosures about Internet surveillance is inevitable.

“Incidents similar to the Snowden disclosures and the Sony hack will happen again and we can expect that sudden events will affect international debates on cyberspace,” the document reads.

The briefing note, prepared for Dion in November and obtained under access to information law, suggests that Snowden’s disclosures about Western mass surveillance “altered the tone” of the international discussion on cyberspace.

In 2013 Snowden, a former employee of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), pulled back the curtain on mass surveillance online, detailing the capabilities of the “Five Eyes” countries — Canada, the United States, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand — to monitor activity online. His release of classified NSA documents triggered outrage among those who said he put lives at risk, and praise from others who argued he shed light on questionable practices and has forced needed change. He was forced to flee the U.S. and was granted asylum in Russia.

Then in 2014, hackers broke into Sony company computers and released thousands of emails, documents and sensitive personal information. U.S. federal investigators blamed North Korea.

While Canada has long advocated for an open and free Internet, suggestions that the nation’s spy agency the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) has engaged in mass online surveillance have complicated that narrative.

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#CyberFLASH: Former Rouge Valley hospital clerk fined $36K for selling patient info

image-4TORONTO — Former hospital clerk Shaida Bandali has been sentenced to two years’ probation, 300 hours of community service and $45,000 in penalties for handing over the personal information of new mothers to investment dealers peddling education savings plans.

Bandali pleaded guilty in August to one count of unregistered trading. On top of a $36,000 fine, Bandali must pay a $9,000 victim surcharge that goes toward a provincial fund that assists the victims of crime.

The Ontario Securities Commission alleged that she breached the confidentiality policies of her employer, the Rouge Valley Hospital group, to access the personal data of maternity patients and distribute it to one or more people selling Registered Education Savings Plans.

The OSC said Bandali created investor lists by using her unauthorized access to get patient information and selling those lists to RESP agents for cash.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Kathleen Caldwell said the fine reflected the seriousness of Bandali’s breach of trust.

“All of the victims had recently given birth and were thus, by definition, at a very stressful and vulnerable, albeit joyous, time in their lives,” Caldwell said in her decision.

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#CyberFLASH: Anonymous leaks another high-level federal document as part of vendetta against government

anonymous-analyticsAs part of their vendetta against the Canadian government, hackers with Anonymous have leaked another high-level federal document — about the redevelopment of Canada’s key diplomatic centres in Britain — that the National Post has confirmed is an authentic and official confidential document.

This is the second document leaked by a cell of the shadowy hacktivist group, raising serious questions about how Canada’s secure infrastructure was breached and whether more secrets are at stake.

The latest document, designated “secret” and marked “confidence of the Queen’s Privy Council,” discusses government cost overruns — but an eventual anticipated profit — from the Department of Foreign Affairs’ selling, relocating and refurbishing of Canada’s diplomatic buildings in London, one of its last major acts under former minister John Baird.

The Treasury Board of Canada document is dated Feb. 6, 2014, the same as one released in July by the same group. The first document revealed the closely guarded secret of the specific size of Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s network of foreign stations and problems with their outdated cyber security.

Both documents have now been confirmed as authentic by a knowledgeable government source.

The Post also confirmed the federal government has mounted an internal investigation to determine how the documents got into the hands of activists.

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#CyberFLASH: Security expert believes Ashley Madison website hack was an inside job

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John McAfee thinks he knows who hacked Ashley Madison.

In an article for the International Business Times, the eccentric creator of McAfee antivirus software alleges that the extramarital relationship website was breached by a “lone female who worked for Avid Life Media.”

Last month, a group calling itself the Impact Team leaked private data of more than 30 million users along with internal company documents and emails.

It’s those internal documents — including such mundane items as maintenance schedules and an office layout — that McAfee claims led to him to conclude the breach was an inside job, not the work of outside hackers to whom the information would be of little value.

As for the notion that the hacker was a female, McAfee references lines from manifestos released by the Impact Team that refer to men as “scumbags” and name two site users who joined Ashley Madison the day after Valentine’s Day.

“To call an act the day after Valentines Day “spiteful” is a thought that would enter few men’s minds. If this does not convince you then you need to get out of the house more often,” he wrote.

McAfee said he reached his conclusions after spending more than a week combing through over 40 gigabytes of leaked Ashley Madison data.

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#CyberFLASH: Ottawa must do more to fight cyber attacks in light of latest hack

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Hacktivist group “Anonymous” has struck again in this country, leaking what the group says is a classified document from Canada’s spy agency CSIS.

The document is dated February of last year and reveals CSIS was trying to extend its secure network to twenty-five foreign stations.

The leaked document also reveals 70 CSIS operatives work at the stations, processing 22 500 messages a year.

A spokesperson with the government wouldn’t confirm the the legitimacy of the document.

“We do not comment on leaked documents and we continue to monitor this situation closely,” Jeremy Laurin said in an email.

Liberal MP Marc Garneau says the leak is troubling.

“I was very concerned when I found out that all of this information had been obtained by the group Anonymous,” Garneau said. “This is a very serious wake up call for the government, cyber security is a reality that we must address today.”

This latest hack is the latest in a long string. Last month, CSIS and the Government of Canada’s websites were victims of a cyber attack, and before that websites for the National Research Council and Revenue Canada were hacked.

Just last week, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced 142 million dollars in funding for cyber security over the next five years, which is in addition to 94.4 million dollars allotted in the budget.

Garneau doesn’t think it’s enough.

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#CyberFLASH: CSE says Snowden leaks eroding spy agency’s long-term advantage over terrorists

snowden-onlinedatabase-20150304Canada’s electronic spy agency says leaks by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden have “diminished the advantage” it enjoyed over terrorists and other targets, both in the short term and — of more concern — well into the future.

In newly released briefing notes, the Communications Security Establishment says Snowden’s disclosures about CSE’s intelligence capabilities and those of its allies “have a cumulative detrimental effect” on its operations.

The Ottawa-based CSE monitors foreign communications of intelligence interest to Canada, and exchanges a large amount of information with partner agencies in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

The notes, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, were among the briefing materials prepared for CSE chief Greta Bossenmaier’s March 25 appearance before the House of Commons committee on national defence.

Canada spying

Documents Snowden handed to the media revealed the U.S. National Security Agency — the CSE’s American counterpart — had quietly obtained access to a huge volume of emails, chat logs and other information from major Internet companies, as well as massive amounts of data about telephone calls.

The documents also suggest Canada helped the United States and Britain spy on participants at a London G20 summit and that the CSE devised a sophisticated spy operation against Brazil’s ministry of mines and energy.

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