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AlertBoot offers a cloud-based full disk encryption and mobile device security service for companies of any size who want a scalable and easy-to-deploy solution. Centrally managed through a web based console, AlertBoot offers mobile device management, mobile antivirus, remote wipe & lock, device auditing, USB drive and hard disk encryption managed services.


AlertBoot Endpoint Security

AlertBoot offers a cloud-based full disk encryption and mobile device security service for companies of any size who want a scalable and easy-to-deploy solution. Centrally managed through a web based console, AlertBoot offers mobile device management, mobile antivirus, remote wipe & lock, device auditing, USB drive and hard disk encryption managed services.

June 2017 - Posts

  • UK ICO to SMEs: Data Protection Laws Apply to You

    The United Kingdom's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has slapped Boomerang Video Ltd. (BV), a company that rents out video games, with a £60,000 fine. The monetary penalty is the result of a 2014 data breach in which personal details of 26,000 people were stolen.
    The fine deserves another look because BV's data breach was the result of an attack; it is not an instance of the "breachee" having a hand in the data breach, e.g., never changing the default password or using software that was out of date. Nothing that foolish.
    At the same time, BV certainly could have done much, much better to secure their online presence.

    SQL Injection Attack

    As the ICO notes, the breach took place via a SQL injection attack. This in turn allowed hackers to guess a password "based on the company's name," allowing access to the company's servers. Of course, once inside, all sorts of shenanigans took place.
    The hacker (or hackers) was aided by certain practices that BV engaged in, as listed by
    • Boomerang Video failed to carry out regular penetration testing on its website that should have detected errors.
    • The firm failed to ensure the password for the account on the WordPress section of its website was sufficiently complex.
    • Boomerang Video had some information stored unencrypted and that which was encrypted could be accessed because it failed to keep the decryption key secure.
    • Encrypted cardholder details and CVV numbers were held on the web server for longer than necessary.
    The above is not a full list (for example, they also stored cards' security codes, which are prohibited once payment is processed). But, it already paints quite a picture.

    Surprising Requirements?

    What may be surprising to most Britons is the level of security awareness a business must have, even if they happen to be a small- or medium-sized enterprise. SQL attacks, password complexity, penetration testing, securing encryption keys… these are not terms one is generally familiar with. You may hear it here and there once in a while, maybe even have a passing knowledge of what it may entail.
    But actually doing it? Some of the listed practices lie firmly in the realm of professionals who charge a lot of money for their services. Unsurprisingly, business that are not necessarily raking it in do not seek or engage the necessary help that is required to protect their clients (and to meet the law's standards).
    On the other hand, BV's website debuted in 2005, and "remedial action" to secure the site was taken in 2015. That's a long time to go without checking whether things are secure, especially considering what the internet has morphed into: among other things, a speedy region where data crimes blossom with greater severity every passing second.
    The lesson to be parted with in this instance comes not in the insight you can glean from the nature of BV's digital sins and the monetary fine it was levied with, but from the ICO's enforcement manager's own words:
    "Regardless of your size, if you are a business that handles personal information then data protection laws apply to you.

    "If a company is subject to a cyber attack and we find they haven't taken steps to protect people's personal information in line with the law, they could face a fine from the ICO. And under the new General Data Protection Legislation (GDPR) coming into force next year, those fines could be a lot higher."
    The government is sending a signal, loud and clear, and in oh-so-many ways. Are businesses listening?  
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  • EU Proposes End-to-End Encryption and Other Security Measures

    Last week, the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs released a draft proposal that would require the use of end-to-end encryption. It would also strike legal attempts to force backdoors in encryption software or weaken the security of services given by communications providers.
    Amendment 36
    Service providers who offer electronic communications services should process electronic communications data in such a way as to prevent unauthorised access, disclosure or alteration, ensure that such unauthorised access, disclosure or alteration is capable of being ascertained, and also ensure that such electronic communications data are protected by using specific types of software and encryption technologies.
    Amendment 116
    The providers of electronic communications services shall ensure that there is sufficient protection in place against unauthorised access or alterations to the electronic communications data, and that the confidentiality and safety of the transmission are also guaranteed by the nature of the means of transmission used or by state-of-the-art end-to-end encryption of the electronic communications data. Furthermore, when encryption of electronic communications data is used, decryption, reverse engineering or monitoring of such communications shall be prohibited. Member States shall not impose any obligations on electronic communications service providers that would result in the weakening of the security and encryption of their networks and services.

    Many of the proposals, but expressly the above two, run counter to certain governments' recent actions that would cripple encryption and other security measures for all in the name of fighting terrorism and other crimes.

    It is a welcome breath of sanity for a world that increasingly appears to be regressing back to an imagined time of stability.  

    Does This Mean the Bad Guys Are Protected?

    Of course, there will be those that, in typical knee-jerk fashion, will cry that we're giving the bad guys an upper hand. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Laws protecting privacy always make an exception for illegal activities, and the EU provides exceptions for those who seek to abuse the system. For example, while Amendment 116 would make it impossible to decrypt any text messages that are stored in a smartphone (the smartphone itself is not protected, it seems, since the law specifically mentions "electronic communications data" – that is, information that is exchanged between two or more people), an exception would kick in if the messages were part of an investigation.

    What the new amendments will do is further cement the protections long afforded to law abiding citizens, and prevent those who would slowly decimate the same under one pretext or another.  

    Read the Fine Print, Though

    Some media outlets covering the amendment mention that this means the EU is recommending (some even go as far as saying banning) backdoors. This claim needs a little clarification, it seems, since it seems overly broad.

    In each instance of the amendments that were referenced, the term "electronic communications data" and "electronic communications provider" is included. Thus, it would appear that while backdoors are being given a red light, it is limited to encryption for data-in-motion. There is nothing here to suggest that the same is being extended to data-at-rest encryption, the type of cryptography that is generally used for securing all the contents of a laptop, for example.


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  • Louisville Hall of Justice Computer Stolen And Recovered, Hard Drive Still Missing

    There are reports out of Kentucky that a computer being used at the Louisville Hall of Justice has been stolen. The notable thing about this story, however, is that the computer was eventually recovered. Even more notable: the recovered computer was missing its hard drive. This small fact can be interpreted in many ways, but with the daily stories of stolen data being sold and traded on the internet, it's difficult not to conclude that the contents of the missing storage device have or will find their way to the dark net.  

    Terrible Security

    The stolen hard drive is presumed to have sensitive, personal information for "less than 175 individuals," the number of people contacted to alert them of the data breach. The personal information could include Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and drivers' license numbers that were included in the emails of the two Assistant County Attorneys that used the computer.

    Will you stop and think what is being implied here, security-wise? Kentucky passed a breach notification law in 2014. It provides safe harbor if the sensitive information is encrypted or if it's believed that nothing will come out of the data breach.

    The absence of the hard drive negates the latter condition. The fact that people are being alerted means that the former condition has not been satisfied, either.

    But, remember, the sensitive data was stored in emails. So, not only was the computer not encrypted but neither were the emails. The implication, then, is that the two attorneys were shooting (or perhaps only receiving?) personal information around the internet without having it encrypted first.

    That's not good. When sending and receiving information from the internet, chances are that somebody, somewhere can intercept that data. ISPs have to do it, of course, because they're in the business of forwarding emails to the correct inbox.

    But criminals, too, can intercept emails by hacking strategic servers to either retain emails or to read an email's contents for specific patterns before it's sent on. So that's a digital info security no-no.

    Also, it was revealed that the computer was stolen from a publicly accessible conference room.

    Terrible, security-wise. The only way a non-encrypted computer with sensitive information should be allowed to remain in a publicly accessible conference room of a Hall of Justice is if the Hall of Justice is this one:

                                    Wikipedia Image of Superfriends Hall of Justice

    At least then you've some super-duper friends to stop any shenanigans.


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