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Posts Tagged ‘Data Security’

There’s a dark side to everything.

Posted by rjssqlservernotes on February 19, 2013

The Big Data menace continues to grow as reported by Ryan Gallagher of The Guardian: “A multinational security firm has secretly developed software capable of tracking people’s movements and predicting future behaviour by mining data from social networking websites.”  Raytheon’s system named RIOT is fed from individuals’ voluntary posts to social media sites; during a demonstration Raytheon  was able to identify their “example target. With information gathered from social networks, Riot quickly reveals Nick frequently visits Washington Nationals Park, where on one occasion he snapped a photograph of himself posing with a blonde haired woman. We know where Nick’s going, we know what Nick looks like now we want to try to predict where he may be in the future.”

An amazing, if not Orwellian, example of the use of predictive analytics.

From my soapbox:

Everything you share online on any website may be used against you.

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Data Insecurity

Posted by rjssqlservernotes on October 21, 2012

As a DBA and former software engineer one of my recurring nightmares involves the release of sensitive information from a system for which I am responsible.  Every day it seems I read of another incident of data breach; that is, “the intentional or unintentional release of secure information to an untrusted environment.”  The list below represents the data breach activity that has been reported for the past ten days (source:Privacy Rights Clearinghouse):

October 18, 2012 Blount Memorial Hospital
Maryville, Tennessee
A password-protected laptop was stolen from an employee’s home on August 25.  It contained two groups of patient data.  Patient names, dates of birth, responsible party names, patient addresses, physician names, and billing information for 22,000 patients were on the laptop. An additional 5,000 patients had similar information exposed as well as their Social Security numbers and other non-medical information.
October 18, 2012 Southern Environmental Law Center
Charlottesville, Virginia
Sensitive information from Southern Environmental Law Center was placed online. Credit card, medical, and donor information such as addresses, phone numbers, and client files were exposed. The data was accessible via Google search for an unspecified amount of time. Southern Environmental Law Center is warning people not to open emails about the security failure or click on any links in emails that appear to be from Southern Environmental Law Center.
October 15, 2012 District 202
Plainfield, Illinois
People who applied online for a job in District 202 had their information accessed by a hacker. The hacker sent messages to former and current job applicants and informed them that the Plainfield School District 202 website was breached.
October 13, 2012 City of Burlington, Washington
Burlington, Washington
A hacker or hackers managed to transfer $400,000 in city funds to accounts across the country. The cyber attack occurred sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.  City employees may have also had their direct deposit bank account information compromised.
October 12, 2012 AutoCarry
North Bergen, New Jersey
An office burglary that occurred on October 10 resulted in the exposure of customer information.  Paper documents that contained credit card numbers, addresses, and other personal information were taken.
October 12, 2012 Korn/Ferry International
Los Angeles, California
A cyber breach affected Korn/Ferry databases.  Names, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, government-issued identification numbers, credit card numbers, and health information may have been exposed.  The information may have been available to unauthorized parties for months before the breach was discovered in August of 2012.
October 11, 2012 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
Baltimore, Maryland
The CMS experienced 13 breaches between September 23, 2009 and December 31, 2011.  The CMS failed to notify beneficiaries of seven of the breaches in a timely manner.  The HHS’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) also alleges that the notifications mailed to beneficiaries did not disclose what type of information had been exposed, the date the breach occurred, or how CMS was working to prevent future breaches.
October 10, 2012 Northwest Florida State College
Niceville, Florida
An internal review revealed a hack of Northwest College servers.  One or more hackers accessed at least one folder in the server between May 21, 2012 and September 24, 2012.  Over 3,000 employees, 76,000 Northwest College student records, and 200,000 students eligible for Bright Future scholarships in 2005-06 and 2006-07 were affected.  Bright Future scholarship data included names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, ethnicity, and genders.  Current and former employees that have used direct deposit anytime since 2002 may have had some information exposed. At least 50 employees had enough information in the folder to be at risk for identity theft.
October 8, 2012 TD Bank
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Two data backup tapes were lost during shipping in late March 2012.  The tapes included customer names, Social Security numbers, addresses, account numbers, debit card numbers, and credit card numbers.
“Used with the permission of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, http://www.privacyrights.org.”

The fear mongering about data breaches most commonly involves “Identity Theft” where a “Hacker” uses the obtained personal information to assume the identity of an unsuspecting individual whose Social Security Number and other information has been “stolen”. Clearly, data breaches make the process of obtaining personal information about any individual easier; however, the fact remains that anyone’s personal information is obtainable WITHOUT access to any restricted data via a variety of public Internet sources.

Notwithstanding the identity theft hyperbole, as a DBA, it is my responsibility to ensure that my employer NEVER makes the Data Breach list. To that end I am a disciple of, and evangelist for, encryption of all sensitive data stored in my databases. I discuss the various encryption options for SQL Server in the paper Data Insecurity: A Perspective on Data Encryption.

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