Data Breaches

Credit Card Data Breach

The office supply chain Staples is investigating a potential breach of credit card data. According to Mark Cautela, Staples’ senior public relations manager, “Staples is in the process of investigating a potential issue involving credit card data and has contacted law enforcement. We take the protection of customer information very seriously, and are working to resolve the situation. If Staples discovers an issue, it is important to note that customers are not responsible for any fraudulent activity on their credit cards that is reported on a timely basis.”

Security specialists believe the hackers are using a form of the same malicious software, Backoff, used in the Target and Home Depot assaults, among others.

The malware, Backoff, made headlines this past summer. According to Crosman (2014), “One of millions of malware mutations out there, Backoff tries to break into point-of-sale networks and steal credit card data; 600 retailers have reportedly been hit.” Crosman adds that the concerns about Backoff surface as cyber-attacks against financial institutions and retailers are growing more frequent, more sophisticated, and more widespread. Many banks have recently fallen victim to “masquerading,” a combination of social engineering and confidence scam that uses high-tech tools and generally results in wire transfer fraud. Backoff-like malware is said to have been behind several recent high-profile retailer breaches, including those at Target, P.F. Chang’s, Neiman Marcus, Sally Beauty Supply and Goodwill Industries.

“Enterprises are now coming to the conclusion that they are either already compromised, or will soon be,” says Aviv Raff, CTO at APT defense firm Seculert. “It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of ‘when.’ The breach shows the necessity of moving from trying to prevent an attack to try and detect and respond as quickly as possible.”

In August, the U.S. Secret Service warned that 1,000 U.S. businesses may have been infected by Backoff malware, although at that time, only a handful of related breaches had come to light. The same month, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning to all businesses that use POS systems, urging them to scan their systems for signs that they’d been compromised.

References:

Crosman, P. (2014). How ‘Backoff’ malware works and why banks care. Retrieved from http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/179_149/how-backoff-malware-works-and-why-banks-should-care-1069180-1.html

Schwartz, M.J. (2014). Staples launches breach investigation. Retrieved from http://www.govinfosecurity.com/staples-launches-breach-investigation-a-7459

Weise, E. (2014). Staples in Northeast likely breached with ‘more to come’. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/10/21/staples-breach-northeast/17663941/

Advertisements

Delivering the correct medicine to healthcare patients – the holes in the checks

administering medicine

Drugs and medicines administered to patients in hospitals, care homes and psychiatric wards need to be done according to the instructions issued by the doctor or consultant in charge of the patient. These medicines are issued by the nurse(s) in charge and there is a heavy reliance and trust based on them to dispense the correct drug(s) and in the correct dosage, according to the instructions given. Situations can arise where the wrong medicine is administration, the medicine is given in the wrong dosage (either too little or too much), the medicine is given at the wrong time (either earlier or later than the scheduled time) or it is missed completely. These situations can be for any reason, including unusually busy times on the ward, changes in shift or simply because of general complacency or lack of knowledge of the nurse. These inconsistencies in receiving medicine(s) can be extremely harmful to the patient, especially if they are children, elderly or in intensive care units. When a medicine is administered, it is simply recorded on the patients chart (usually attached to the patient’s bed) with the time of administering and the signature of nurse. The time put down is not necessarily correct.

A biometrics solution, such as palm vein can help to eliminate the inconsistencies with administering medicines to patients, ensuring that patients receive the medicine that they need at the right time. Using a palm scanner, a nurse can ‘check-in’ at a patient’s bedside. This can then be recorded as the time at which the medicine(s) were given to the patient. The palm vein technology will detect whether the nurse who has ‘checked-in’ has the authority to give this patient his medicine. If the scanner has recorded a reading of another non-authorised nurse, this will be flagged up immediately. On successfully checking-in, a nurse is able to see a list of the medicine(s), the times at which they should be administered and the correct dosage that should be given to the patient. If the palm vein reading is false, i.e. is a reading of a person that is not authorised or does not exist in the database, details of the medication, including dosages will not be revealed. This method of administrating medicine makes it virtually impossible for the nurse to make any accidental errors or for unauthorised persons to have access to the patient’s records. Alerts are triggered in the solution to alert the nurse’s station if the time is approaching for the next dose to be given to the patient or if the next dose has been missed. Nurses are able to them immediately correct the oversight.

The palm vein technology is a highly secure and contactless biometric solution that works by reading the vascular pattern of the palm. These patterns are unique to each individual and exists underneath the skin layer so they cannot be forged thereby making it more secure than any other biometric device. Being contactless and technologically advanced, it is extremely appropriate for places like hospitals, care homes and psychiatric wards where security and hygiene cannot be compromised.

WCT is in the business of Compliance, Identity & Security assurance. For more information, you can reach us on (globalsales@wct-inc.com)

Trust of Hospital workers – how security can be breached

 

surgical equipment

 

This blog addresses the issues that arise with employee access to confidential data, medicines and surgical equipment, and restricted areas

When patients are admitted in to hospitals, they put the trust of their lives in to the hands of the medical team who are there to help and treat them. The patients believe that no intentional harm should come to them while in the hospital care. Details of their treatments and personal information should be kept private and confidential, and in accordance to data protection acts.

A case in the USA was reported where a nurse had tampered with the patients IV bags. These IV bags contained painkillers which the nurse wanted for her own use. However, in taking small amounts of this painkiller from multiple bags using a syringe, she was transferring bacteria to each patient that was then given these bags. The nurse tampered with these bags in a storage room and not by the patient’s bedside. This act of tampering with the IV bags resulted in 23 patients being infected.

A case in Canada was reported where it was found that surgical equipment had been tampered with. In this case, the item was found before it was used; however, it could have had disastrous implications if it had been used. Sterilizing of medical equipment is carried out by more than 60 people at this particular hospital, so identifying the person responsible would be an extremely difficult task.

Several audits have been carried out on hospital devices, with the results finding that they are vulnerable to security threats, including the uncontrolled distribution of passwords, disabled passwords, hard-coded passwords for software intended for privileged device access. A password in the wrong hands can have catastrophic implications, including patients being left vulnerable to their medical records being accessed.

Each of the cases and audit mentioned above identify different ways in which harm can be caused to a hospital patient. A biometric access control solution such as palm vein can be implemented to prevent and eliminates such cases from occurring. By using a palm vein technology solution, a hospital employee is tracked when accessing highly secure areas such medical cabinets, surgery room, surgery instrument cupboards, patient rooms, and hospital computers and networks. By attaching devices to these areas, hospitals can ensure that the correct medication is getting to patients at the right time and without being tampered with. Unauthorized people will no longer have access to hospital computers; a palm scanner connected to a computer acts as the sign-on mechanism for the user, without any password required. This method for logging into a computer can also be extended to applications on the computer or hospital network.

The use of fingerprint authentication is not a suitable or reliable form of authentication for use within hospital environments. Fingerprints are worn away over time or can be damaged by cuts or burns. Unlike palm vein technology, fingerprint authentication is not a contactless form of authentication. Hospital workers would be required to touch a glass panel in order for the reading to be made. This makes it possible for viruses and bacteria to be transferred.

The palm vein solution is a highly secure and contactless biometric solution that works by reading the vascular pattern of the palm. These patterns are unique to each individual and exists underneath the skin layer so they cannot be forged thereby making it more secure than any other biometric device. Being contactless and technologically advanced, it is extremely appropriate government workers, authorised personnel and third-party contractors where security cannot be compromised.

WCT is in the business of Compliance, Identity & Security assurance. For more information, you can reach us on globalsales@wct-inc.com.

References:

http://www.canada.com/story_print.html?id=5fbd3e6d-175d-4f68-b293-1de5954aa4ac&sponsor=

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1367241/Nurse-suspected-infecting-23-patients-stealing-drugs-IV-bags-syringe.html

http://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/safety/alertsandnotices/ucm356423.htm

Government workers and their unsecured technology devices

Data security breaches - laptop and USB

This blog addresses the issue of confidential government information and data being lost after being taken by trusted personnel out of Government offices

 

With dependencies on technology, we have all started using mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc. as a means of communication. Threats of malware and viruses attacking our devices have been investigated in depth and are still a hot subject of research and investigation. However, what hasn’t been discussed are ways in which to eliminate unauthorised access to a device that arise when a government worker loses a device in their possession which contains confidential information.

Over the last several years, there have been a number of cases reported in the United Kingdom where Government workers, authorised personnel or sub-contractors of government agencies have lost, had stolen or left their technology devices, including Laptops, memory sticks and external hard drives on public transport, in car parks, fast-food chains or from military sites.

All the devices that went missing contained extremely highly sensitive and Top Secret data. In one particular case, an authorised person lost a memory stick containing the medical records of more than 6000 prisoners and ex-prisoners. The data was encrypted, however the password was written on a note which was attached to the memory stick.  In July 2008, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that 121 computer memory sticks 747 laptops have been lost or stolen in the previous 4 years.

Although the loss or theft of these devices is difficult to control, biometric solutions such as PalmVein can help to eliminate unauthorised access to the sensitive and Top Secret data that these devices hold. By using a palm scanner, authorised personnel are able to log-in to the devices without the need for passwords. The palm scanner is also used as way to open certain government related applications or even documents that are password protected without the need for a password. The biometrics scan of a personnel’s palm acts a single sign-on mechanism. Each sign-on to a device is recorded for auditing purposes. This is especially important if there are multiple authorised personnel accessing the same device. Any unauthorised personnel trying to access the device will also be recorded for future auditing. This method on access a device eliminates the need to use password.

With advancements in technology, many laptops and mobile phones nowadays have a biometrics enabled security access option, in the form of a fingerprint scanner. Although this is a secure method, it is not always the most accurate and is prone to flaws. If, for example a person is trying to access his own laptop using fingerprint recognition technology, any changes in his fingerprint, such as cuts or a worn-away finger-tip (due to burns or prolonged use of keyboards etc), will deny this person access to the device.

The palm vein technology is a highly secure and contactless biometrics solution that works by reading the vascular pattern of the palm. These patterns are unique to each individual and exists underneath the skin layer so they cannot be forged thereby making it more secure than any other biometric device. Being contactless and technologically advanced, it is extremely appropriate for use by end customers as well as for bank employees where security cannot be compromised.

WCT is in the business of Compliance, Identity & Security assurance. For more information, you can reach us on (globalsales@wct-inc.com)

 

References:

BBC (2009, May). Previous Cases of Missing Data. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7449927.stm

House of Commons Defence Committee (2009, March). Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08. Retrieved from

                http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmdfence/214/214.pdf