It had all the makings of a sexy data breach story. An individual with the Twitter nick of @TibitXimer claimed to have exploited a vulnerability on Verizon’s server and dumped about 300,000 records out of an estimated 3,000,000 customer records allegedly acquired.
ZDNet trumpeted the headline, “Exclusive: Hacker nabs 3m Verizon customer records.” They reported:
“A hacker has posted around 300,000 database entries of Verizon customers to the Web, after exploiting a vulnerability in the cellular giant’s network.
The hacker, going by the name @TibitXimer on Twitter, told ZDNet earlier this evening that the hack was carried out earlier this year on July 12, which allowed him to gain root access to the server holding the customer data. Tibit gained access to a server with little difficulty after working with another hacker to identify the security flaw.”
The problem is that although none of it was true, @TibitXimer’s claims and ZDNet’s repetition of the claims were repeated all over the Internet.
One day later, @TibitXimer was gone from Twitter and a more accurate version of the story started to emerge. In statements to other media outlets such as DataBreaches.net, The Next Web, and Forbes, Verizon spokesperson Alberto Canal explained that Verizon’s systems had not been breached at all, there was no vulnerability exploited, no root access gained, and that the data dumped were old data from an incident a few months ago.
To add insult to the reputation harm that Verizon could have suffered, the incident wasn’t even Verizon’s incident. It turned out that a third party marketing firm that Canal did not name had accidentally leaked a sales lead list and the list had simply been copied and posted at the beginning of August. Most of the names on the list were not even Verizon customers, according to Canal. The same data were re-posted this week and claimed as a new “hack.”
Not such a sexy story anymore, right? And ZDNet is certainly not the only media source to believe a hacker’s claims that were subsequently determined to be totally untrue. We’ve been fooled, too, at times, as has Lee Johnstone, who recently had to correct a report on Cyber War News that a hacker named “Hannibal” had leaked 1,000,000 Facebook account details in retaliation for #OpIsrael.
Over the past year, the problem of false claims has reached almost epidemic proportions, which is why, over the past few months, DataLossDB.org started implementing policies requiring us to obtain – or at least make a good faith effort to obtain when possible – a statement from an allegedly breached entity either confirming, denying, or clarifying and correcting a hacker’s claims of a breach – *before* we decide whether to add a report to the database.
Sometimes, as in this case, it is relatively easy to reach a media contact and get a response. In other cases, particularly with small entities involved in claimed hacks overseas, it is not so easy, and we may send several e-mails that go unanswered before we try to decide whether to include a claimed breach or not. If you login and read individual entries, you may even see a Curator’s Note in the Comments section indicating that we tried and failed to reach anyone by e-mail to confirm the report.
Deciding whether to include a report when we cannot reach anyone is headache-inducing, to say the least, as we realize that with this less than perfect system, entities might suffer reputation harm through no fault of their own. We have therefore also implemented the ability to fully delete entries from the database should we later learn that a claim was totally false.
Another policy we recently implemented involves putting (DISPUTED) in the summary line for an incident if there is a real dispute as to whether a breach occurred or not. There may be times when an entity insists they have not been breached but we find the evidence in a data dump to be compelling and decide to include the report. This was the case, for example, in the reported hack of MilitarySingles.com, where they denied it to DataBreaches.net and others, but analysis of the data dump and information still available on their site led us to the decision to include the report. At other times, a reported breach may be part of litigation and where the defendant denies the claims, we may decide to include the report but note it as DISPUTED.
Trying to confirm the numerous claimed hacks that appear on Pastebin or other sites on a daily basis is a time-consuming process that slows us down in providing timely reports and has put even more pressure on our resources that are already constrained. However, we believe that it needs to be done to ensure data quality. And so, as 2012 draws to a close, we have already added over 1,400 incidents (and that number does not include the Fringe incidents) for the year, but there are hundreds more still to process. Whatever number you see on the Stats page for December 31st will likely be significantly under our real total for the year until we can catch up.
On that note, I wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2013. And let’s hope that next year, things slow down for us!
OSF has worked with Dissent over the years and she is already known to us a DataLoss Archaeologist, as she took third place in our “Oldest Incident” contest. She found the 1984 TRW incident, where computer hackers gained access to a system holding credit histories of some 90 million people which happens to be the 3rd largest breaches of all time in DataLossDB. Her more active involvement with the project on a day-to-day basis will help us remain the most complete archive of dataloss incidents world-wide and will enhance our ability to keep current on more breaches in a timely manner. Dissent will continue to maintain her own web sites as a resource on breach news and issues.
For those who do not know Dissent, she’s a practicing health care professional with a special concern for health care sector breaches, and we expect to see increased coverage of medical sector breaches in the database in months to come. As Dissent notes, “With recent changes to federal laws making more information available to us about health care sector breaches, we are now beginning to get some sense of how common these breaches are and the common breach types. Including these incidents in the database will enable analyses that would not have been possible or meaningful just a few years ago.”
Open Security Foundation’s CEO, Jake Kouns says, “Dissent has been a supporter of DataLossDB from the very beginning and is an extremely dedicated and thorough researcher.” “We are extremely fortunate to have her as part of the DataLossDB team and look forward to working more closely with her.”
Welcome Dissent, our newest curator and resident research queen!
As security vulnerabilities and data loss incidents become a regular occurrence, the Open Security Foundation has grown from supporting a single project in 2004 to a leading provider of filtering through security information and providing notifications and aggregation for data for data loss and cloud security incidents.
The Open Security Foundation has evolved into one of the most utilized resources in providing security information, and as a 501c3 non-profit organization relies heavily on public contributions, volunteer effort and corporate sponsorships.
The growing demand for information to provide proper risk management has led to additional projects and now the introduction of an advisory board consisting of industry professionals to lend their expertise in areas to keep OSF moving in a positive direction and to be the first line of access to all that require their service.
Open Security Foundation CEO and founder Jake Kouns stated, “This is a very important step in shaping the future of the Open Security Foundation.” “OSF has reached a point in growth that requires a strategic move to provide longevity and sustainability. It has always been a goal of this organization to provide our work to the broadest audience and the introduction of the advisory board will contribute to that objective. I am extremely proud to be part of such an amazing organization that has built a reputation of excellence and serves a very important function,” adds Kouns. “We put out a call for qualified individuals that could provide guidance and insight to keep OSF a leader in the security information arena. The results of our search far exceeded our highest expectations; it’s not only provides us with confidence in our direction, but the impact OSF has had on the industry.”
The new advisory board members comprises of an array of specific industries that understand the importance of OSF resources. Each member was chosen for a specific contribution to ultimately achieve the objective and mission of this foundation and capable of providing broad based perspective on information security, business management and fundraising.
Tom Srail, Senior VP Willis Group provides 19 years of experience in the insurance industry with an expertise in risk consulting, professional liabilities, network security risks, intellectual property and technology professional risks.
Shawn Andreas, VP Marketing Guard Dog Inc.(GRDO.PK) will contribute his 20 years of experience in marketing and brand awareness to remake OSF to be more consumer and market friendly focusing on fundraising and sponsorships opportunities. His expertise in marketing spans over diverse markets and includes opportunities working with some of the country’s top companies including GM, Apple, Viacom and more.
Jim Hietala VP, Security for a leading IT standards organization, manages all security and risk management programs. Mr. Hietala is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. In addition he has published numerous articles on information security, risk management and compliance topics.
Daniel E. Geer, Jr. Sc.D. Chief Information security officer In-Q-Tel Washington. Mr. Geer has a list of accomplishments including participation in government advisory roles for the Federal Trade Commission, the Departments of Justice and Treasury, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the US Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Andrew Lewman, Executive Director The Tor Project, Inc. Andrew Lewman is the Executive Director of The Tor Project, a non-profit organization. Mr. Lewman worked on projects with the National Science Foundation, Internews Network, Freedom House, Google, Broadcasting Board of Governors, National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the US State Department.
In addition to the advisory board, OSF also announces new leadership positions with the organization. We are pleased to announce that Becky Chickering and Corey Quinn are now curators for the DataLossDB project. We want to thank everyone that contacted OSF to volunteer their time and skills for the advisory board and flexibility as we went through this process. During our conversations with potential members we spoke with several passionate individuals that have a great deal to offer OSF. We plan to continue to expand our leadership team and are always looking for volunteers to help the organization.
The Open Security Foundation, providing independent, accurate, detailed, current, and unbiased security information to professionals around the world, announced today that it has launched Cloutage (cloutage.org) that will bring enhanced visibility and transparency to Cloud security. The name Cloutage comes from a play on two words, Cloud and Outage, that combine to describe what the new website offers: a destination for organizations to learn about cloud security issues as well as a complete list of any problems around the globe among cloud service providers.
The new website is aimed at empowering organizations by providing cloud security knowledge and resources so that they may properly assess information security risks related to the cloud. Cloutage documents known and reported incidents with cloud services while also providing a one-stop shop for cloud security news and resources.
“When speaking with individuals about the cloud, to this point it has been a very emotional conversation. People either love or hate the cloud,” says Jake Kouns, Chairman, Open Security Foundation. “Our goal with Cloutage is to bring grounded data and facts to the conversation so we can have more meaningful discussions about the risks and how to improve cloud security controls.”
Cloutage captures data about incidents affecting cloud services in several forms including vulnerabilities that affect the confidentiality and integrity of customer data, automatic update failures, data loss, hacks and outages that impact service availability. Data is acquired from verifiable media resources and is also open for community participation based on anonymous user submissions. Cloud solution providers are listed on the website and the community can provide comments and ratings based on their experiences. Cloutage also features an extensive news service, mailing lists and links to organizations focused on the secure advancement of cloud computing.
“The nebulous world of cloud computing and the security concerns associated with it confuses many people, even IT and security professionals,” says Patrick McDonald, a volunteer on the Cloutage project. “We want a clearinghouse of information that provides a clear picture of the cloud security issues.”
Since the database’s inception, we have added incidents based on specific criteria and omitted incidents that didn’t quite fit that criteria. The criteria has traditionally been:
- An incident must have lost one or more of the following data types:
- Social Security or national ID number
- Credit card number
- Bank account number
- Medical record
- Financial account number
- AND the number of records lost/stolen/missing must be greater than 10,
- AND the data lost must have had a steward organization.
The last point is often a point of confusion. For instance, three gas stations in a town attacked by skimmers fall into a grey area, and wouldn’t normally be added to the database, as there is no cut and dry identifiable steward; we can’t place responsibility for the loss on any one entity with full confidence. You could blame the gas stations themselves for not having safeguards, but the responsibility falls in a grey area in terms of applicable prevention. If it turned out that an employee installed the skimmers, then it would fit our criteria and would be cataloged as an incidence of Fraud/Social Engineering. A laptop stolen out of a car, however, is the responsibility of the owner of the laptop to safeguard it. There really is no grey area, as there is an entire industry built around guarding portable devices, and laws in place around the world designating owner responsibility.
Our criteria has helped us keep a consistent, relevant data-set. On the other hand, our criteria has also forced us to reject interesting and possibly relevant incidents; incidents that many who follow the project would probably want to know about. The criteria has also made us prone to many internal debates, and occasional arguments over applicability. One thing we mostly agree on, however, is that doing nothing with these incidents that we and our volunteers have drudged up is a waste of energy. We want to keep that data, but not necessarily have these ‘fringe’ incidents impact charts and graphs generated on the website or impact user-derived statistics generated via downloads of the data-set.
As a result, we’ve decided to create a new category of incidents: “Fringe” incidents. You won’t see these fringe incidents in a search unless you specifically check the box to see them. They won’t show up in our statistics graphs or our reports, and they won’t be in most data exports. Instead, we’ll make separate data exports if you want to see that data. We’ll still tweet these fringe incidents as they tend to be of some interest to followers.
Examples of “Fringe” incidents might include data loss incidents with fewer than 10 people affected, or data loss incidents where the data type might be more or less directory (name, address, phone number) information.
Some incidents currently in the database are likely to be moved over to fringe since we have on occasion bypassed our own criteria when a particular incident seemed egregious enough. We will no longer have to do that going forward, which should facilitate moderation of user submissions (since we won’t have to agonize over saying ‘no’ as much as we used to).
We’ll be clearing out our queue over the next few days and adding more incidents as ‘Fringe’. Here are some links related to this endeavor:
The Open Security Foundation (OSF) is an internationally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit public organization seeking senior leaders capable of providing broad-based perspective on information security, business management and fundraising to volunteer for an Advisory Board. The Advisory Board will provide insight and guidance when developing future plans, an open forum for reviewing community feedback and a broader view when prioritizing potential new services.
OSF was founded in 2004 and has been operated by information security enthusiasts since its inception. We exist to empower all types of organizations by providing knowledge and resources so that they may properly protect, detect and mitigate information security risks. We believe that security information and services should be easily accessible for all who have the need for such information. We promote open collaboration between companies and individuals, provide unbiased information to uphold educated decision-making, and attempt to eliminate the need for redundant works while striving to improve organizations’ overall security posture.
Prospective Advisory Board members should show an ability and willingness to:
-Participate actively in all meetings of the Advisory Board (2 times per year and as otherwise needed)
-Represent OSF and its mission to organizations and the general public
-Review and provide feedback for proposed OSF plans
-Chair and serve as members of committees
-Assist in locating and developing funding sources for OSF
If you are interested in volunteering please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide the following information:
Area of Expertise:
If you know someone with senior leader experience who you believe could act in an advisory position please contact us at email@example.com.
The call for Advisory Board volunteers will be open until March 19, 2010. We will review all submissions by March 31, 2010.
The Open Security Foundation (OSF) has grown from a humble beginning in 2004 to an internationally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit public organization. Through the work of a small team of dedicated information security enthusiasts, the Open Source Vulnerability Database (OSVDB) and DataLossDB projects have provided organizations of all sizes with the knowledge and resources to accurately detect, protect and mitigate information security risks. OSF research is often cited throughout the security industry and the organization was honored by being named winner of the SC Magazine’s Editors Choice award for 2009.
To ensure the highest quality information that has become the trademark of OSF, a tremendous amount of effort is expended on a daily basis by OSF volunteers to process an ever increasing amount of data loss and vulnerability reports. Over the years, many volunteers have been involved in the projects, but for the most part the the heavy lifting has been the work of only a few very dedicated volunteers. The “open source” approach to resourcing the projects has been successful to date but is now proving to be an unsustainable model. With long-term sustainability and increased services as our goal, we have initiated a comprehensive review of our current operations, our existing approach to project funding and the creation of potential new services for the security community.
As a start, we plan to do a better job of sharing our view on the state of the information security industry and creating a mechanism to gain community feedback to better establish our vision for the OSVDB and DataLossDB projects.
To that end I want to take a moment to share our initial plans for 2010.
The OSF officers and project leads have been dedicated to the daily operations required to make OSVDB and DataLossDB the recognized leader in vulnerability and data loss tracking. This focused dedication has left little time to take the pulse of the industry as it relates to our projects or to establish a clear long-term vision for the projects. To address this need, OSF will be creating an Advisory Board. The board will consist of three to five senior leaders capable of providing broad based perspective on information security, business management and fundraising. It is our hope that this will provide a sounding board when developing future plans, an open forum when reviewing community feedback and a broader view when prioritizing potential new services. Additional information along with an official call for Advisory Board nominations is planned for 2/12/2010.
Direct unfiltered feedback from both the security community as well as the organizations that benefit from our projects is critical. Over the next few weeks, we plan to post a public survey asking for feedback that will help shape our long-term vision and establish our near-term plans for OSVDB and DataLossDB. Those of you who value the work that the OSF provides and/or consider yourselves friends and supporters of OSF are asked to help spread the word to maximize the feedback provided.
Feedback from the survey will be the foundation for the OSF vision and 2010 plan. Our goal is to present a draft of both the vision and the 2010 plan to the newly formed Advisory Board by mid-April 2010. Once finalized, both documents will be shared with the information security community.
OSF has been recognized for providing a critical service to the information security community but our potential is much greater. We look forward to hearing your ideas on how OSF can further improve the state of security while building a stronger organization to deliver even higher quality research and additional services.
Chairman, Open Security Foundation
What does the coffee shop, the mall, the discount super center, the grocery store, the post office, the laundromat, and your favorite local restaurant have in common?
Aside from a fundamental desire to part you from your money, they also are a common stopping point on the way home from work, or while out shopping. This week and next, think about your data while you get that double mocha latte, or run in for a last-minute holiday gift. Leave the laptop someplace safe (not in the back seat of your car), lest you want to ring in the new year with your company in the headlines. Better yet, don’t store anything sensitive on it to begin with. New Years resolution in the making, perhaps?
Several data loss incidents occurred this year and last over the holidays, and there are reports that Santa’s naughty/nice list may have been compromised. This suggests that the holidays are indeed a chaotic time, and that chaos can desensitize you to the value of the data you may be carrying, or leaving behind (understandably). Unfortunately, there are no “I forgot cousin Eddy was coming and needed that last minute gift…” exemptions in the various data breach laws. These holiday incidents also shows us that thieves enjoy our “vacation”, and celebrate the holidays by breaking into our offices! So keep that in mind as well when you leave work this week.
And last, if you’ve already filled the stockings, and bought everything you need for the holidays, and happen to have a few dollars left over, consider a donation to OSF to keep these projects running.
Happy Holidays and Such,
The DataLossDB Team
Posted by d2d
The trip to Vegas went well, at least as far as 105 degree temperatures, several cab rides, and trips through airport security can go over the course of three or four days (and yes, it took us about a week to recover). Always good to get together with a few friends, meet some new people, and we hope that some of the conference attendees will contact us if they want to help out.
Dave presented a talk at Metricon in Montreal earlier today, and from his phone reports, it sounds like it was a success. We’ll have to wait until he’s back home until we get a complete recap, but he seems happy with the conference overall!
For those asking, we’re still working on Primary Sources and the new legal project… it’s just been a very busy last few weeks for us and we hope to catch up on email and get back to everyone in the next few days. As we mentioned on the mail list, we especially thank Altonius for jumping in and doing excellent work on the Primary Sources project, literally matching dozens of sources to existing incidents and adding dozens of new incidents to the database.
We still have several states to send Freedom of Information requests to, so please check out the Laws page if you might be interested in submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on OSF’s behalf. We’re not done with this yet, and your help would be GREATLY appreciated (we’ve been known to bribe/reward those who volunteer). For more information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Lyger.
The Open Security Foundation and DataLossDB volunteers will once again be in Vegas this year for BlackHat and Defcon. If you are going to be in town and want to get together to discuss the project or anything related to security, vulnerabilities and/or data loss incidents then please contact email@example.com.
We also want to let everyone who has contacted us about the new legal sub-project know that we will be in touch shortly. We are looking forward to formally kicking the project off but have been extremely busy over the past few weeks!
In addition, we want to thank all of our volunteers for their dedication and hard work and also ask that you please take a moment to visit our sponsors page as these organizations continue to support the project.
Hope to see some of you in Las Vegas!