Top 10 Privacy Risks published

OWASP published Top 10 Privacy Risks for Web Applications:

  1. Web Application Vulnerabilities
  2. Operator-sided Data Leakage
  3. Insufficient Data Breach Response
  4. Insufficient Deletion of personal data
  5. Non-transparent Policies, Terms and Conditions
  6. Collection of data not required for the user-consented purpose
  7. Sharing of data with third party
  8. Outdated personal data
  9. Missing or Insufficient Session Expiration
  10. Insecure Data Transfer

Further details are provided on the project website.

Study on costs of NSA surveillance

New America’s Open Technology Institute published a paper on NSA’s Impact on Economy, Internet Freedom & Cybersecurity. NSA surveillance not only causes economic loss to US companies like cloud computing vendors or the defence industry because foreign companies and governments lose trust. Also US foreign policy interests are undermined and additional costs to the Internet Freedom Agenda and US Credibility in
Internet Governance are caused.

Furthermore security standards in the internet are compromised and vulnerabilities are created. This might require costly initiatives to border the internet like the proposal of the Deutsche Telekom for a Schengen Routing or the European Cloud Partnership.

NSA surveillance major threat to fundamental rights

The alternative report on protection of fundamental rights published by the German committee on fundamental rights and democracy considers mass surveillance by NSA and other secret services as one of the two major threats besides the right-wing terror organization NSU (National Socialist Underground). The major threat to free democracies moves away from outside attackers to an aggressive overreaction of the internal system says one of the publishers Rolf Gössner in a German heise article. Furthermore he states that the German government and justice refuse legal or political consequences for protection so far.

OWASP Top 10 Privacy Risks

I started the OWASP Top 10 Privacy Risks project together with a colleague. Its goal is to develop a top 10 list for privacy risks in web applications because currently there is no such catalog available. The list will cover technological and organizational aspects like missing data encryption or the lack of transparency. The project is open source and non-profit. Feel free to contribute!

Tips against governmental surveillance

Many people currently ask what to do against governmental surveillance (NSA spying) and some managers even think that standard security measures are useless because “the NSA has access to everything anyway”. But there are other attackers besides secret services and there are also things you can do against governmental surveillance. Here is my list of the most important things to consider:

  • Use encryption. The NSA is not able to read all encrypted data with reasonable effort and if you use the algorithms and key sizes recommended by ENISA you are quite secure. Furthermore there are tools for anonymized internet browsing like Tor and JonDo.
  • Choose European IT companies instead of US IT companies. It will not only help to lower the likelihood that your data leaks to the NSA, but also to put some economic pressure on US companies. US companies themselves will demand to restrict governmental spying if they lose a significant number of customers or users.
  • Blow the whistle if you are aware of governmental back-doors in products or systems, unlawful eavesdropping or even attempted blackmailing. Media companies like the German SPIEGEL have set up guidelines for informants and sometimes whistle-blowing is the only way to point out serious deficits. But prepare to run and leave your family 😉
  • Request independent audits and product certifications that prove the absence of data leaks for governmental bodies. Choose trusted auditors.
  • Continue securing your assets because as a security consultant or manager you are mainly defending the reputation of your company. The NSA would not publish that they hacked your company. But if your customer data gets published or sold by cyber criminals, you will get huge media attention and this will damage your reputation and possibly your shareholder value. Furthermore you also have to comply with laws and regulations.

Note: There are governments from other countries besides the USA that have powerful secret services and support spying on private and company data and internet traffic without providing transparency. One self has to decide whom he or she trusts, and in how far eavesdropping is acceptable and helpful to fight terrorism.

Swedish Transparency

ScreenHunter_03 Jan. 08 19.41

I spent New Year’s Eve in Sweden and it is always interesting again to see that Swedes are much less concerned regarding privacy than people in most other European countries. Especially services like requesting the holder of a car including type, registration date and location by just sending a SMS with the license number to 72503 or getting detailed information about the salary history and financial standing of a person on ratsit.se for only a small fee would not be possible and accepted in most other European countries.

This is not surprising if you have a look at a Eurobarometer report from 2011 stating that only 33% of the Swedes are concerned about over-disclosure of personal information. The EU average is 72%. The revelations about the Swedish government spying on Russia to support the NSA and opposing to the planned reform of the European Data Protection Regulation confirm that privacy is not a big concern in Sweden.

 

Germany’s new DPC supports governmental spyware

The christian-democratic politician Andrea Voßhoff will succeed Peter Schaar as Federal Data Protection Commissioner (DPC). Her election is criticized because she did not care about data protection so far: She supported the data retention that was declared unlawful later on, and demanded the online searching of computers with spyware by governmental bodies and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Green politician Konstantin von Notz says in a guest article for German Handelsblatt that this is just another part of the government’s try to weaken fundamental rights protection of German citizen.

Since Christmas is close when hope and happiness is celebrated in many parts of the world, I still hope that her new role will change Mrs. Voßhoff’s mindset and she will become a strong supporter of the right of informational self-determination and privacy 😉

On this note, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Privacy profession likely to explode

As European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx stated at the IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress: “I would not be surprised if the privacy profession would just explode in the coming years.”

700 participants and nearly 40% more than last year at one of Europe’s biggest privacy congress that took place from 10-12 December in Brussels show that his prediction is likely to happen. You can read about the most interesting discussions and quotes on Twitter.

Hot topics at the congress were recent developments regarding the EU Data Protection Regulation, but also Privacy by Design. I moderated a session about Current and Future Privacy Trends with Facebook’s Head of Policy Erika Mann and Aurélie Pols, who stated that many people say: “Yeah, privacy by design. We do it. But that’s not the reality at most companies.” I totally agree and I consider the concept of Privacy by Design as very important, but there lacks a clear definition in the upcoming data protection regulation about what it really means in practice and which level is adequate.
Siobhan McDermott, Chief Policy Officer at AVG, made a funny but true statement in our session that “NSA is looking for a privacy pro, although I don’t think anyone is crazy enough to take that job.”