India’s patient and personal information data's been hacked
Wide-ranging, Interoperable (IOp) eHealth depends on effective, secure Unique Patient Identifiers (UPI). India’s extending Aadhaar, its national identity number, as the UPI for healthcare. The Tribune has a report saying it’s been hacked. Rs 500, 10 minutes, and you have access to billion Aadhaar details refers to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), responsible for Aadhaar, claim in November that Aadhaar data for over a billion people’s fully safe and secure and there has been no data leak or breach.
A Tribune employee paid Rs500, about US$8, for a service offered by anonymous sellers to provide unrestricted access to details for Aadhaar numbers. Contact was made over WhatsApp, and took ten minutes to complete. Data provided included a login ID and password for access to any Aadhaar number in the portal and access the data that individuals have submitted, including name, address, postal code, photo, phone number and email address. Another Rs300, almost US$5, bought software that can facilitate Aadhaar card printing by entering an Aadhaar number of any individual.
The Tribune says IDAI officials in Chandigarh were shocked at the revelations. It’s classified as a major national security breach. It seems the breach was some six months ago. Anonymous groups were created on WhatsApp. They targeted over three unemployed Village-Level Enterprise (VLE) operators hired by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (ME&IT) under the Common Service Centres Scheme (CSCS).
CSCS operators produced Aadhaar cards. They lost their jobs when the service was restricted to post offices and designated banks to avoid security breaches. Initial illegal Aadhaar access was used to print and sell Aadhaar cards to low income villagers. Cyber-criminals have expanded the service.
There are several lessons for Africa’s planned UPIs. Cyber-security should never be seen as safe. It required constant vigilance. Changes in personnel and providers always need corresponding changes in access rights and monitoring. These should be part of a rigorous cyber-security strategy.
- 195 views
- January 11, 2018
- Tom Jones
England’s NHS could have prevented the WannaCry cyber-security breach
It was a bad day for England’s NHS. On 12 May, the WannaCry ransomware attack breached over a third of its organisations’ cyber-security defences. Without access to data, many patient services and schedules were disrupted and brought to a halt. It was a shock to the health system. NHS Digital believes not data was stolen.
A report from the UK’s National Audit Office identified 14 facets of the breach. The lessons are essential for Africa’s eHealth.The NHS was not the specific target, but it resulted in a major incident and emergency arrangements to maintain health and patient careOn the evening of 12 May, a cyber-security researcher activated a kill-switch, stopping WannaCry locking devices and avoiding more disruptionWannaCry was the largest cyber-attack to affect the NHS, following attacks on several organisations, the NHS trusts, before 12 May 2017, two of which breached by WannaCry had been breached beforeThe Secretary of State for Health asked the National Data Guardian and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to reviews and report on data security, identifying, in July 2016, that cyber-attacks could lead to patient information being lost or compromised and jeopardise access to EPRs, resulting in all health and care organisations needing to provide evidence that they were improving cyber-security, including moving off old and obsolete operating systems, such as Windows XPThe Department of Health (DoH) and its arm’s-length bodies did not know if local NHS organisations were prepared for cyber-attacks, including their responses to NHS Digital alerts in March and April 2017 warning organisations to patch their systems to prevent WannaCry, crucial knowledge because NHS Digital cannot mandate local bodies to act, even if it has vulnerability concernsWannaCry spread across the Internet, includingthe broadband network connecting all NHS sites in England, the N3 network, but there were no instances of it spreading across the NHS email system, NHSmailAt least 34% of England’s NHS trusts were disrupted, but DoH and NHS England don’t know the full extent of the disruptionThe scale and scope of the disruption isn’t known, but an estimated 19,000 thousand appointments were cancelled, operations were cancelled and in five areas, patients had to travel further to A&E departmentsThe Department, NHS England and the National Crime Agency confirmed that no NHS organisation paid the ransom, in line with NHS Digital advice, but the DoH doesn’t know how much the service disruption cost the NHS and patientsA DoH plan that included roles and responsibilities of national and local organisations in responding to cyber-attacks had not tested at local levels, so the NHS was not clear about actions it should take when WannaCry struck, a deficiency exacerbated because WannaCry was different to previous incidents, such as a major transport accident, and took more time to determine the cause and scale of the problemWithout rehearsals for a national cyber-attack, it was not immediately clear who should lead the response, and there were communications problems tooIn line with its existing procedures for managing a major incident, NHS England initially focused on maintaining emergency care All organisations infected by WannaCry shared the same vulnerability and could have taken relatively simple action to prevent the breach by patching obsolete Windows operating systems and managing their firewalls facing the Internet would have guarded organisations against infection.
In response, the NHS’s:Developing a response plan setting out what it should do to respond to cyber-attacksEstablishing roles and responsibilities of local and national NHS bodies and the DoHEnsuring organisations implement critical CareCERT alerts for emails sent by NHS Digital providing information or requiring action, including applying software patches and keeping anti-virus software up to dateEnsuring essential communications work during attacks when systems are downEnsuring organisations, boards and their staff take cyber-threats seriously, understand the risks to front-line services and work proactively to maximise their resilience and minimise impacts on patient care.
Since WannaCry, 39 CareCERT alerts have been issued by NHS Digital between March and May 2017. They require essential action to secure local firewalls.
These insights and lessons are valuable for Africa’s eHealth. They provide a component of the cyber-security strategies and plans they need.
- 264 views
- December 08, 2017
- Tom Jones
Does spambot Onliner have your email address?
It’s described as the largest spambot. ZDNet has a report about the finding by Benkow, a cyber-security researcher in Paris, who discovered an open and accessible web server hosted in the Netherlands which stores dozens of text files. They contain a batch of 711 million email addresses, passwords server login information and 80 million email servers used to send spam. The credentials came from other data breaches, such as the LinkedIn and Badoo hacks.
Malevolent goals are to send email spam through legitimate servers to defeat many spam filters. Onliner delivers Ursnif banking malware into inboxes globally. Ursnif is a Trojan. It steals data such as login details, passwords and credit card data. A spammer then sends a dropper file as normal-looking email attachments. When it’s opened, the malware downloads from a server and infects the machines. Spamming is still an effective way to deliver malware, but email filters are becoming smarter, with many spamming domains blacklisted.
There’s been over 100,000 unique infections up to the end of August 2017. Cyber-attackers need large lists of Simple Mail Transfer or Transport Protocol (SMTP) credentials that authenticate them to send bogus legitimate emails that by-pass spam filters. The more servers they find, the bigger the campaign.
When bogus emails are opened, they send back to the cyber-crookss the IP address and user-agent information used to identify the type of computer, operating system and other information about the devices. Cyber-attackers use this to identify who to target with Ursnif. They specifically target Windows computers. iPhone or Android users aren't affected by the malware.
Focused hacking instead of scatter bombing reduces the malevolent campaign’s cyber-noise. It can help to slow down responses from law enforcement agencies.
Benkow’s discovery re-emphasises the need for Africa’s eHealth programmes to train, then train again and again, health workers in cyber-security. It’s an essential components in the constant cyber-security response.
- 224 views
- November 16, 2017
- Tom Jones
Do these 7 steps help you defend against cyber-security breaches?
Cyber-security breaches are inevitable. Maximising cyber-security can minimise them, but can’t eliminate the risk entirely, so effective responses are essential. 7 Ways to Improve Your Security IncidentResponse, a white paper from R.sam, specialising in governance, risk and compliance, aims to help. A summary’s:Integrate with Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), products, services, technology and teams that provide real-time analyses of security alerts generated by network hardware and applications, and ensure the right data reaches the incident response team promptlyPrioritise Incidents using SIEMs and end users, and inform decision-makers by highlighting incidents in dashboards derived from calculated values such as priority or severityLeverage threat and vulnerability data from a central repository of security operations, including threats, vulnerabilities, incidents, patch managements, asset management and other data sources and provide incident handlers with real-time viewsStandardize playbooks and configure automated dynamic rules to address unique handling requirements and criteria to help avoid mistakes in high-stress situationsAutomate responses for repeatable, measurable and auditable response tasksEnable collaboration so everyone working on an incident has a single view into activitiesShare real-time dashboards to leverage incident and event data.
These can help to avoid four causes of inappropriate responses:Lack of process maturityPoor data quality and availabilityUnsatisfactory toolsetsChanging policies and disparate teams.
The seven steps comprise a platform that can overcome these limitations. They offer Africa’s eHealth programmes a way to step up their responses to cyber-security breaches.
Are you interested in reading more about the implications for African health systems? Download Acfee's paper on Cyber-security: themes for Africa's eHealth.
- 620 views
- October 20, 2017
- Tom Jones
All-Wi-Fi standard has a cyber-security vulnerability
A serious weakness’s been found in Wi-Fi networks. Mathy Vanhoef of imec-DistriNet at KU Leuven found it. The paper on Krackattacks says WPA2, a security protocol, can be exploited by cyber-criminals using key reinstallation attacks (KRACK) within victims’ range. Once in, they can read information assumed to be encrypted, and steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails and photos.
Attack succeed against all modern protected Wi-Fi networks. Depending on the network configuration, data can be injected and manipulated. Ransomware and other malware could find its way to websites.
Weaknesses are in the Wi-Fi standard itself, not in individual products or implementations. Any correct WPA2 implementation is likely to be affected. Prevention needs users to update affected products when security updates are. If a device supports Wi-Fi, it’s probably affected.
Vanhoef’s initial research found that Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, MediaTek and Linksys are affected by variants of attacks. A proof-of-concept executed a key reinstallation attack against an Android smartphone. Attackers could easily decrypt all data transmitted by victims because the key reinstallation attack’s exceptionally devastating against Linux and Android 6.0 or higher. These can be tricked into reinstalling an all-zero encryption key.
While attacking other devices finds it harder to decrypt all packets, large numbers of packets can be decrypted. A demonstration in Vanhef’s paper shows the type of information that a cyber- attacker can access using key reinstallation attacks.
Africa’s eHealth programmes need to seek and install patches and updates from their vendors. The findings show, yet again, a cyber-world full of holes, many of which may still be unidentified. Constant vigilance is essential. As participants at Acfee’s recent eHealthAFRO 2017 said, cyber-security is everyone’s business.
- 400 views
- October 17, 2017
- Tom Jones
Cyber-threats keep evolving
Cyber-criminals have sent millions of fraudulent emails as crude, random attacks, hoping to trick people to reveal their personal or financial information. As organisations and people worked out how not to respond, cyber-criminals began switching to bespoke targeted attacks. These use advance reconnaissance, research and testing, using use specialised knowledge and details about targets to try by-pass defences and penetrate organisations’ networks. They’re more lucrative than random cyber-attacks.
Trend Micro, a global cyber-security firm, has published a white paper available through Health IT Security. Navigating the evolving threat landscape with a more complete approach to network security deals with:How targeted attacks change network security landscapesResponding to increasingly complex threats A cross-generational approach to network securitySecurity fuelled by market-leading global threat intelligenceDetection techniques comprising a smart network defenceIntegration with other security solutionsSeamless threat intelligence sharingCentralised visibility and control.
Its findings from 264 organisations are alarming:80% had experienced a network-based attack or exploit90% had active command and control activity on their network65% had been infected by zero-day or unknown malware17% were being actively breached.
Zero-day vulnerability is an important concept in cyber-security. It’s an undisclosed software vulnerability that cyber-criminals and other hackers can exploit to disrupt computer programs, data, additional computers and networks.
An effective response, Trend Micro says, has to be “smart, optimized and connected.” Part of this is sophisticated cyber-security tools that operate alongside existing platforms and applications. Rigorous integration and interoperability ensures a stronger defence. These other technologies include:Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)Vulnerability assessment and managementApplication securityNext-generation firewallsBreach detectionVisibility and enforcement of Transport Layer Security (SSL), derived from Secure Sockets Layer and including encryption Software-defined networking and the cloudNetwork Packet Brokers (NPB) that optimise incident analyses by enabling ICT and security services to acquire situational awareness and security intelligence about intrusion and extrusion incidents, enabling faster incident responsesIncident response automation.
Africa’s health systems should consider enhanced cyber-security as part of their eHealth strategies. It’s affordability can measured against the estimated costs of cyber-security breaches.
- 534 views
- September 19, 2017
- Tom Jones
Bitpaymer’s offspring disrupts hospitals
A variant of Bitpaymer ransomware’s been breaching hospital’s ICT. It’s been in Scotland’s Lanarkshire Trust, previously breached earlier this year by WannaCry, reported on eHNA. Some operations were cancelled, GPs’ work disrupted and patients asked to attend Accident and Emergency only if their needs were essential. ZDNet has a report saying systems were taken offline. Perpetrators say they’ve gathered "private sensitive data."
Unlike most hacks that prefer to be covert, ransomware makes contact with users to ask for a ransom in return for a decryption key. The ransom request was very high, some 50 bitcoins, about £168,000, US$218,000. Failure to pay may result in the cyber-crooks sharing data they’ve acquired.
ZDNet has short ransomware guide. Ransomware: An executive guide to one of the biggest menaces on the web. Other guides are Remove All Threats has a guide on removing Bitpaymer. Protect PC Health has a guide too. Both are for PCs.
- 719 views
- September 11, 2017
- Tom Jones
IBM’s cyber-threat index shows it’s increasing
eHNA’s covered many cyber-threats reports. The IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2017 puts them into perspective. It’s not good. It sees 2016 as a defining year for cyber-security.
Three themes are Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, loads of records leaked through data breaches and a step up by organised cyber-crime on businesses. Over four billion records were leaked, more than the combined total 2014 and 2015.
Mega breach was redefined, with one source leaking over 1.5 billion records. The average cyber-security events of IBM® X-Force®’s clients exceeded 54 million, 3% up on 2015. An event’s illicit activity on a system or network detected by a security device or application.
Attacks are security events classified by correlation and analytics tools as malicious activity attempting to collect, disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy information system resources or its Information. X-Force found an average of 1,019 attacks, a 12% decrease compared to 1,157 attacks in 2015.
Incidents are security events worthy of further investigation by IBM security analysts. It’s better news. Average incidents were down to 94 in 2016, a 48% drop from 2015’s 178. This doesn’t automatically mean cyber-security’s safer. It may be that cyber-attackers rely more on proven attacks that need fewer attempts. It’s also inconsistent with the combination of huge record leaks and a record year of vulnerability disclosures.
There were many notable leaks in 2016 involving hundreds of gigabytes of email archives, documents, intellectual property and source code. They exposed organisations’ digital footprints. Previous data breaches were often fixed sets of structured information. Examples are credit card data, passwords, national ID numbers and Personal Health Information (PHI) data. This’s a paradigm shift.
X-Force’s report profiles a range of cyber-attack methods. They’re:Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)Physical accessBrute forceMisconfigurationMalvertisingWatering holePhishingStructured Query Language Injection (SQLi)DDoSMalwareHeartbleed.
The analysis and overview are extremely valuable for Africa’s heath executive and ICT teams. Web application vulnerability disclosures made up 22% of all vulnerability disclosures in 2016. Injecting unexpected items manipulating data structures comprised 74% of all cyber-attacks. These are a few of the priorities.
- 1,104 views
- August 16, 2017
- Tom Jones
WannaCry and NotPetya don’t need eHealth users
Africa’s health systems need to match ransomware attacker’s sophistication. Neither Wanna Cry nor Not Petya, the latest types of attack, relies on files and users’ clicks to open email attachments. Instead, they seek systems vulnerabilities to access and spread across networks. Barkly, a cyber-security firm, describes it as misusing legitimate system tools and processes. Unlike previous methods of using suspicious executables, the new wave can avoid scrutiny from some cyber-security products. A Barkly’s video shows how they work.
Its solution includes:
Learn how cyber-attackers exploit tools to spread ransomware without files and interaction instead of phishing emailsKnow why attacks that don’t use interaction are becoming more popular, with two thirds of ransomware in Q1 2017 using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) from Microsoft.Test your security against fileless attack scenarios using a malware simulation tool.
This approach may help Africa’s eHealth programme to step up their cyber-security measures for ransomware. Simulation’s better than dealing with a ransomware aftermath.
- 724 views
- July 07, 2017
- Tom Jones
Is NotPetya a shift in ransomware’s goals?
After Wanna Cry, came NotPetya. A report from Forbes says it’s not typical ransomware that aims to make illicit money. It describes it as more devastating. It can inflict permanent damage to data and hard drives.
The Grugg, a research outfit, says NotPetya looks like Petya, ransomware. There’s code sharing, but Petya was a criminal, money-making enterprise. NotPetya’s designed to spread fast and cause damage under a plausible ransomware front. The Grugg says it was a direct attack on Ukraine.
It spread to organisations globally, so what does it mean for Africa’s eHealth? First, it could be collateral damage to an offensive cyber-attack on an external country. Next, it emphasises the need for regulate backups not connected to the eHealth networks. Third, it’s vital to keep systems and anti-virus and cyber-security services up to date with the latest upgrades and updates.
As a shift in emphasis for ransomware, NotPetya means that cyber-security measures and performance have to be increasingly effective and vigilant. It looks like there’s more and worse to come.
- 582 views
- July 05, 2017
- Tom Jones
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