Archive for 'Security & privacy'
A new book chapter by Jean Camp and myself is now available. It appears in a new collection edited by George Yee titled Privacy Protection Measures and Technologies in Business Organizations: Aspects and Standards. Here is the abstract, citation information, and link to the book.
In August 2007 approximately 445,000 letters were sent to retirees who belonged to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). This was a routine mailing, but all or a portion of each pensioner’s Social Security Number (SSN) was printed on the address panel of the envelopes, making this event all but ordinary. This massive breach of sensitive SSNs, along with names and addresses, exposed these people to potential identity theft and fraud. What are the harms associated with a data breach of this nature? How can those harms be mitigated? What are, or should be, the costs and consequences to the organization releasing the data? While it is very difficult to predict the specific consequences of a data breach of this nature, a statistical model can be used to estimate the likely financial repercussions for individuals and organizations, and the recent settlement in the TJX case provides a good model of harm mitigation that could be applied in this case and similar cases.
Patrick, A. S., & Camp, L. J. (2012). Harm mitigation from the release of personal identity information. In Yee, G. O. (Ed.), Privacy Protection Measures and Technologies in Business Organizations: Aspects and Standards. (pp. 309-330).
Here are some upcoming events that you might be interested in.
- Presenter: Privacy & Information Security Congress 2011, November 28-29, 2011, Ottawa. I will be presenting about privacy and location-based services.
- Attending: Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2012. February 27 – March 2, 2012, Bonaire.
Financial Cryptography and Data Security is a major international forum for research, advanced development, education, exploration, and debate regarding information assurance, with a specific focus on commercial contexts. The conference covers all aspects of securing transactions and systems. Original works focusing on both fundamental and applied real-world deployments on all aspects surrounding commerce security are solicited.
- Program Committee: Workshop on Usable Security. March 2, 2012. Part of Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2012, Bonaire.
- Of Interest: Workshop on Ethics in Computer Security Research. March 2, 2012. Part of Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2012, Bonaire.
- Program Committee: Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2012). July 11-13, 2012, Washington, DC. This symposium will bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers and practitioners in human computer interaction, security, and privacy. The program features technical papers, workshops and tutorials, a poster session, panels and invited talks, and discussion sessions.
The Office is interested in receiving research proposals focusing on four priority areas:
1) identity integrity and protection,
2) information technology,
3) genetic privacy, and
4) public safety.
However, the Office will continue to accept research proposals on issues that fall outside these areas.
As well, the Office invites proposals to fund public education and regional outreach initiatives that aim to inform Canadians about their privacy rights and how they may better protect their personal information.
All proposals will be evaluated on the basis of merit by OPC officials, and the maximum amount that can be awarded for each research or public education project is $50,000. (A maximum of $100,000 can be awarded per organization.)
Not-for-profit organizations, including education institutions and industry and trade associations, are eligible, and this includes consumer, voluntary and advocacy organizations.
Ars Technica has an interesting article describing in detail how the group Anonymous was able to penetrate and embarrass the security firm HBGary and the rootkit.com site.
This was not a particularly advanced attack, but rather one that focused on known weaknesses, bad practices, and social engineering of people who should know better.
Most frustrating for HBGary must be the knowledge that they know what they did wrong, and they were perfectly aware of best practices; they just didn’t actually use them. Everybody knows you don’t use easy-to-crack passwords, but some employees did. Everybody knows you don’t re-use passwords, but some of them did. Everybody knows that you should patch servers to keep them free of known security flaws, but they didn’t.
Recently, the Gawker family of web sites suffered a data breach where millions of password records were stolen and many of the passwords were cracked and published. This incident revealed, once again, that many people are using very weak passwords, but this article also discusses other important lessons.
A key lesson from the attack is that any large password collector must have a plan for responding to a compromised password file — Gawker’s technical inability to force password updates or even email their users is inexcusable. Still, these measures can’t contain the damage. The biggest missed angle on this story is that it’s not just a Gawker hack, accounts on thousands of websites can be compromised as many users use the same email/password combination everywhere.
Planning for the 2011 Financial Cryptography and Data Security conference (commonly known as FC) is coming along nicely.
There is a great collection of accepted papers covering a variety of interesting topics, including: exposure of personal data, privacy risks of location-based services, private information retrieval, e-Banking, botnets, web security, Internet voting, EMV credit cards, password recovery, RFID, and many more…
St. Lucia has two airports and travel arrangements can be easily made from all over the world.
See you in February!
In that experiment, conducted in 1971 in the basement of the Stanford Psychology building, normal, healthy students were randomly assigned to the roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison. Over the course of six days, the “guards” developed extremely authoritarian, abuse behavior towards the “prisoners”, and subjected some of the “prisoners” to torture. Philip Zimbardo, the head of the study, reflected later on the results:
The situation won; humanity lost. Out the window went the moral upbringings of these young men, as well as their middle-class civility. Power ruled, and unrestrained power became an aphrodisiac. Power without surveillance by higher authorities was a poisoned chalice that transformed character in unpredictable directions. I believe that most of us tend to be fascinated with evil not because of its consequences but because evil is a demonstration of power and domination over others.
It seems to me that the actions of the TSA could be described in the same way. Without oversight, power has taken the place of rationality and domination seems to be the goal.
This is an interesting article on how security procedures in Israel are very different from those used in North America. In Israel the focus is on the person — asking questions and looking in their eyes. In North America the focus is on stuff — that they might be carrying or concealing. Interesting differences…
Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel’s largest hub, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?
“The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport,” said Sela.
Sometimes, the computer repair man is your biggest enemy. Not only can the technicians access any private, unprotected information on your system, but they can use that information against you. This story describes an elaborate scheme of psychological exploitation to commit a very large fraud.
According to police, the pair were able to convince Davidson that the virus was in fact a symptom of a much larger plot in which he was being menaced by government intelligence agencies, foreign nationals and even priests associated with Catholic organisation, Opus Dei.
So convinced was the victim he is said to have agreed to pay the pair $160,000 per month for 24-hour protection against the fictitious threats, payments which continued until recently.
David Barrera will be speaking on Usability and Security of Android, Google’s Open Source Smartphone System
Date: Tuesday November 16, 2010
Place: TheCodeFactory, 246 Queen St., Ottawa
The adoption of Android-based smartphones is growing at a rapid pace (nearly 200,000 activations per day) which has placed Google among the top smartphone system vendors worldwide. Despite Android’s open source nature, there are a number of security and usability issues that have yet to be addressed. This talk will cover issues related to security prompts and notices on the device, permission granting, smudge attacks and application security. We will discuss how these issues affect other platforms as well, including Apple iOS, Blackberry, and Symbian.
David Barrera is a 1st year Ph.D. student in Computer Science at Carleton University under the direction of Paul Van Oorschot. His research interests include smartphone and mobile OS security, data visualization, network security and IPv6.