Category: Privacy, Data Protection & Information Management

1
Critical Vulnerability: Vulnerability in Widely Used Open Source Software is Discovered
2
Reminder for our Apple-friendly readers
3
UK consults on new data protection regime
4
GDPR: Irish supervisory authority fines WhatsApp 225 million
5
Uber found to have breached Australian’s privacy following 2016 hack
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To pay or not to pay the ransom? Organisations may find their decision easier with government guidance
7
Would mandatory reporting of ransomware payments cause more good or trouble?
8
New Cyber Security Evaluation Tool released by US Homeland Security for organisations to self-test their security systems
9
New US / Aus cross-border data access regime
10
REvil strikes again – ransomware attack on UnitingCare Queensland

Critical Vulnerability: Vulnerability in Widely Used Open Source Software is Discovered

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham, Max Evans and Ella Krygier

A critical security vulnerability has been discovered in Apache Log4j, an open-source logging library used by many popular Java applications to provide logging functionality for troubleshooting purposes, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC).

The software’s vulnerability, known as Log4Shell, allows for remote code execution, which, if left unfixed, could allow cybercriminals to take control of IT systems, steal personal data, passwords and files, and install backdoors for future access, simply by adding an additional line of arbitrary code. According to the ACSC, malicious cyber actors have used this vulnerability to target and compromise IT systems globally and in Australia, which led the ACSC to publish advice on mitigation and detection recommendations.

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Reminder for our Apple-friendly readers

By Cameron Abbott and Ella Richards

Apple has released critical security updates for a vulnerability found by researchers at Citizen Lab for several Apple devices. This includes all iPhones, iPads, Mac Computers, Apple Watches and the Safari Web Browser.

The vulnerability could allow a threat actor to infect devices with spyware without the users knowledge. Once infected, the threat actor could then perform any action on the device that a normal user would. This could include actions like turning the camera and microphone on or recording messages, texts, emails, and phone calls.

Apple encourages all users of their products to update their devices as soon as possible.

UK consults on new data protection regime

By Norin McFadden and Claude-Étienne Armingaud

The UK government has unveiled its much-trailed plans to reform its data protection laws, outlined in a consultation document which is open for public comment until 19 November 2021.

Since Brexit was finalised at the start of 2021, the United Kingdom has retained much of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. The government’s plans, if implemented, would see the UK move away from the EU’s approach in several key ways, which may lead to trouble for the continuation of the adequacy decision granted by the EU in June. If terminated, the adequacy decision, currently permitting free flows of personal data between the EU and the UK, could cause increased costs and bureaucracy for businesses on both sides of the Channel to continue their data transfers. 

Some of the changes to the UK GDPR proposed in the consultation document are:

  • Making the legitimate interests lawful basis easier to use, by publishing a limited, exhaustive list of legitimate interests that organisations can use without having to complete a balancing test.
  • Removal of the right to human review of decisions made on the basis of solely automated data processing.
  • Introducing a fee for responding to subject access requests and allowing organisations to refuse to comply with requests at a lower threshold than “manifestly unfounded”, as allowed in the current legislation.

The proposals also introduce potential changes to the UK’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, including:

  • Increasing the current maximum penalty of £500,000 for breaches of the direct marketing regulations to the higher of 4% of global turnover or £17.5 million, thereby matching the maximum penalty under UK GDPR.
  • Removing the requirement for websites to obtain consent before serving some analytics cookies.
  • Extending the “soft opt in” for direct marketing to organisations other than businesses, such as charities and political parties.

GDPR: Irish supervisory authority fines WhatsApp 225 million

By Claude-Etienne Armingaud, Camille Scarparo and Léa Fertani.

Further to investigations initiated by the Data Protection Commission (or DPC, the Irish supervisory authority) in 2018, Whatsapp Ireland Limited has received a EUR 225 million fine on 2 September 2021. The company infringed multiple GDPR provisions including in relation with the information provided to data subjects which breached the obligation to ensure transparency of processing (Articles 13 and 14 GDPR).

Following GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism and as WhatsApp operates cross-border flows of personal data, the DPC had initially been designated as lead supervisory authority (‘LSA’). Article 60 GDPR requires the LSA to submit a draft decision to its impacted counterparts across the European Union (the ‘Concerned Supervisory Authorities’). Such draft has been submitted in December 2020 and the Hungarian, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch, Polish, German (local and federal) Concerned Supervisory Authorities unanimously raised objections to the DPC in January 2021. The objections mostly addressed the lax approach by the DPC in the assessment of WhatsApp’s breach of GDPR as well as the amount of the initially contemplated fine in view of the dozens of millions of individuals affected by such breach across the European Union.

This resulted in a non-consensual situation, escalading to the dispute resolution process under Article 65 GDPR conducted by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB). The binding decision, adopted on 28 July 2021 and subsequently notified to the DPC, required the Irish supervisory authority to reassess and increase the fine, thus leading to the second-highest fine under GDPR since its entry into force in 2018.

Uber found to have breached Australian’s privacy following 2016 hack

By Cameron Abbott and Jacqueline Patishman

In 2017, Uber disclosed to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) a breach of its some 57 million global users and driver’s personal information (including approximately 1.2 million Australians). Last Friday, the OAIC determined that Uber had breached the Australian Privacy Act by failing to take reasonable steps to protect Australian’s personal information from unauthorised access.

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To pay or not to pay the ransom? Organisations may find their decision easier with government guidance

By Cameron AbbottRob Pulham and Jacqueline Patishman

The Cyber Security Advisory Committee (an industry based advisory panel established by the Minister for Home Affairs to provide independent strategic advice on Australia’s cyber security challenges) has recommended in its annual report that the federal government develop a clearer policy position on the payment of ransoms by organisations that have suffered ransomware attacks.

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Would mandatory reporting of ransomware payments cause more good or trouble?

By Cameron AbbottWarwick Andersen and Jacqueline Patishman

Last month, the federal opposition (Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security) introduced the private member’s Ransomware Payments Bill (the Bill) that proposes to make it mandatory for all Australian businesses and government agencies to notify the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) before paying a ransom to a ransomware attacker. Failure to notify will attract a penalty of 1,000 penalty units ($181,740).

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New Cyber Security Evaluation Tool released by US Homeland Security for organisations to self-test their security systems

By Cameron AbbottWarwick Andersen and Jacqueline Patishman

The United States Department of Homeland Security has developed the Cyber Security Evaluation Tool (CSET) which provides a systematic (and repeatable) process that critical infrastructure asset owners can use to assess and improve their cyber security management systems. This tool has a particular focus on the security of industrial control systems and information networks.

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New US / Aus cross-border data access regime

By Cameron AbbottWarwick Andersen and Jacqueline Patishman

The Telecommunications Legislations Amendment (International Orders) Bill 2020 has just cleared both houses of parliament. The new bill establishes a reciprocal cross-border data access regime between the United States and Australia which will allow for cross-border communications between foreign governments for national security and law enforcement purposes.

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REvil strikes again – ransomware attack on UnitingCare Queensland

By Cameron Abbott and Jacqueline Patishman

Following a ransomware infection in late April, UnitingCare Queensland has suffered a nearly 2 month long ordeal to regain control of its systems. UnitingCare was a victim of malware called Sodinokibi/REvil which encrypted its files and attempted to delete backups.

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