IPEN Workshop on 9 June in Vienna

The 4th workshop of the Internet Privacy Engineering Network (IPEN) will take place adjacent to the ENISA Annual Privacy Forum, on 9 June 2017 in Vienna at the following address: OCG Austrian Computing Society – Wollzeile 1.

IPEN invites participants from different areas such as data protection authorities, academia, open source and business development, and other individuals who are committed to finding engineering solutions to privacy challenges.

The event is for free and a great opportunity to inform about latest developments in privacy engineering and for networking. Registration and handing in proposals is possible via ipen@edps.europa.eu

Are parents better security managers?

It has been a while since I have been posting here but my family and my job kept me quite busy. Especially my role as information security officer in my company with a successful ISO 27001 certification took its effort over the last couple of months.

Anyway new ideas regarding security and privacy are popping up in my head all the time and I am glad to find this moment to write one of them down and spread it.

This post is about a topic that I have been thinking for quite a while now. Being father of a 2 year old son I see quite some similarities between parentship and security management and I even think that being a parent made me also a better information security manager because I stay calmer in difficult situations like incidents.

As parents you have a lot more situations to deal with that need urgent response to some kind of incident like overfull diapers or your kid running towards the busy street etc. and you learn to and will stay calmer. You also sharpen your sense for what could go wrong – I call it my daily risk analysis. I regularly have to judge what my kid(s) can do like climb somewhere or play themselves outside and what I want to (try) to avoid them to do like run on the street by telling them not to do it and/or locking the fence.

Like in the role of an information security manager as a parent you will not be able to mitigate all risk because kid(s) should not be overprotected and parents do not have the time and energy to control everything. Also there are other stakeholders you have to consider like your partner or your employer that might have different thoughts on how much protection or time your kids need.

This is very similar in a business environment. You will usually not be able to mitigate all information security risks because cost and effort will be too high and too much restriction might have a negative impact on your business. Also time and ressources for information security are limited so that controls have to be prioritized according to the risk level.

But finally there is one huge different: when raising kids parents have to deal with a lot more safety issues than an average information security manager. And what is one of the most important thing you learn in your information security education? Safety (protection of human lives) is always more important than security 😉

How to boost application privacy

Privacy engineering is on the run and the upcoming EU Data Protection Regulation further pushes the requirement of Privacy by Design (PbD). So there is a need for guidelines and patterns on how to implement PbD and there are some recent developments and publications. The OWASP Top 10 Privacy Risks Project published hints and best practices on how to avoid privacy risks in web applications. On privacypatterns.eu you can read about how to implement pseudonymous messaging or protection against tracking among others. Also privacypatterns.org provides valuable information.

Voices from it-sa

I was at the biggest German Security Expo and Congress it-sa last week. One of the highlights was definitely the speech of Edward Snowden (German report) in particular because the European Court of Justice declared Safe Harbor invalid two days earlier. I had a presentation about the OWASP Top 10 Privacy Risks and gave a radio interview for Deutschlandfunk about the importance of a holistic approach for information security. Furthermore heise TechConsult published an interesting study with 5 Steps for IT Security (in German) and recommends companies to spend 1% of their turnover for information security.

Data minimization, Digital innovation & Security

I have been joining the KITS Conference in Berlin recently and there have been lively discussions about privacy as enabler or disabler of the digital future in Germany. Startup consortia and inter-trade organizations like BITKOM think that data minimization is no longer acceptable because it hinders digital innovation. And also at the German BSI IT Security Congress have been statements like “We no longer need data minimization. We need to secure our data.”

Apparently those people have a different understanding of security. In my eyes security protects assets like data to reduce risks. Risks are usually determined by multiplying the likelihood with the impact. E.g. the risk that an administrator maliciously steels your data by downloading it from the database could be reduced by lowering the number of admins by 50%. This will lower the likelihood and the corresponding risk by 50% as well. The impact is influenced by the amount of data and its criticality. If you practice data minimization the amount of data and consequently the impact will be reduced. Thus, data minimization is like the need-to-know principle very important for security because it lowers the impact not only for one risk like data theft by administrators, but for all risks associated with this data set. Furthermore anonymization and privacy by design can help to perform data analysis anyway.

And IMHO the digital future in Germany is rather hindered by a risk-averse and a bit old-fashioned culture than by data minimization 😉

Do Not Track Blog & Linkography

German and French TV channels founded Do Not Track – a very informative blog about privacy and big data with the goal to raise awareness and provide transparency. They call themselves “A personalized documentary series about privacy and the web economy”. The latest article is about Apple and Google participating in a confidential spy summit in a remote English mansion. They also published some hints on how to protect privacy on your smartphone.

I case you are further interested in trustful mobile Apps for users and related instructions for developers the Guardian Project is a good source.

Privacy is not only about laws …

… it is about ethical principles and providing full transparency and choice.

LutherKingMemorial

I was reminded of that when I walked by Martin Luther Jr.’s memorial in Washington DC last week and thought about if currently justice with transparency and choice is still present and in how far capitalism already undermines fundamental laws and even democracy. Often companies try everything to gain financial advantage – not only by challenging or influencing privacy laws by their lobbyists.

Also the defense industry selling their weapons to unstable countries to raise their profit and afterwards wondering that it is war again. Or clothing industry producing in countries like Bangladesh with poorly paid workers and terrible safety in place which already led to the death of many workers caused by fires or collapsing roofs. I sometimes wonder if capitalism and acquisitiveness has grown too strong or if people just don’t understand the interconnections.

What do you think?

Austrian study about Online Tracking, Big Data and surveillance

The Austrian Research Institute Cracked Labs has published a very interesting study in German about Online Tracking, Big Data and commercial surveillance with many examples showing what information companies derive from the data we provide on the internet and how they violate privacy best practices like user consent and restriction to a specific purpose.

One quote From Google’s Eric Schmidt (2013) mentioned in the online version of the report is also a good slogan for 2015: “You have to fight for your privacy or you will lose it”.

Having said that, I wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Germans willing to pay 900 million Euro for Privacy

35% of all Germans would be willing to pay for a guarantee that their data is being used according to their wishes and not for profit without consent according to a study of the German Institute for Trust and Security on the Internet (DIVSI). And there would be even more, but many think even though they would pay it cannot be guaranteed that their data is not misused. The average payment would be 41 Euro which results in the sum of 900 million.

divsi-studie-daten-ware-und-waehrung-22-politik-nutzer-und-unternehmen-in-der-pflicht-1-432x251

Source: DIVSI

The chart shows that 85% think that the misuse of personal data should be followed and prosecuted harder and 84% want that foreign Internet companies have to comply to German laws. Thus, the European Data Protection reform is definitely overdue.