Monday, July 24, 2017

What is Data Privacy and why is it an important issue?

The question of whether privacy is a fundamental right is being argued before the honorable Supreme Court of India. It is a topic to which a young India is waking up too. Privacy is often equated with Liberty, and young Indians wants adequate protection to express themselves.

Privacy according to Wikipedia is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively. There is little contention over the fact that privacy is an essential element of Liberty and the voluntary disclosure of private information is both part of human relationships and a digitized economy.

The reason for debating data privacy is due to the inherent potential for surveillance and disclosure of electronic records which constitute privacy such as sexual orientation, medical records, credit card information, and email.

Disclosure could take place due to wrongful use and distribution of the data such as for marketing, surveillance by governments or outright data theft by cyber criminals. In each case, a cybercitizens right to disclosure specific information to specific companies or people, for a specific purpose is violated.

Citizens in western countries are legally protected through data protection regulation. There are eight principles designed to prevent unauthorized use of personal data by government, organizations and individuals

Lawfulness, Fairness & Transparency
Personal data need to be processed based on the consent given by data subjects. Companies have an obligation to tell data subjects what their personal data will be used for. Data acquired cannot be sold to other entities say marketers.
Purpose limitation
Personal data collected for one purpose should not be used for a different purpose. If data was collected to deliver an insurance service, it cannot be used to market a different product.
Data minimization
Organizations should restrict collection of personal data to only those attributes needed to achieve the purpose for which consent from the data subject has been received.
Accuracy
Data has to be collected, processed and used in a manner which ensures that it is accurate. A data subject has to right to inspect and even alter the data.
Storage limitation
Personal data should be collected for a specific purpose and not be retained for longer than necessary in relation to this purposes.
Integrity and confidentiality
Organizations that collect this data are responsible for its security against data thefts and data entry/processing errors that may alter the integrity of data.
Accountability
Organizations are accountable for the data in their possession
Cross Border Personal information
Requirements.
Personal information must be processed and stored  in secured environment which must be ensured if the data is processed outside the border of the country

It is important for cybercitizens to understand their privacy rights particularly in context of information that can be misused for financial gain or to cause reputational damage.




Friday, July 21, 2017

Looking for love on Matrimonial Sites! Watch out for the Fraudsters

On Oct 2014, I wrote a blog titled “Conmen use fake matrimonial profiles to scam prospective grooms seeking arranged marriages” warning cyber citizens on matrimonial scams. Unfortunately, since then it appears that these scams have become common and lucrative.

These scams earned between 4 lakhs to 1.2 crore rupees (6000 – 200000 USD). Victims were women in their 30’s who had posted their profiles on matrimonial portals. They were emotionally blinded and trusted the online relationship.

The scams used in reported cases in The Times of India, July 20, 2017, were custom harassment, gift clearance or urgent need of money due to a financial or medical emergency.

 31 year old nurse
Conned to accept a parcel that apparently was to contain 15000 GBP ( approx. 12 lakhs)
Paid Rs 4.2 Lakhs ( 6000 USD) to a fake courier company
40 year woman
Conned to bail her suitor out of a sticky payment at the  customs
Paid 74 lakhs (11000 USD) into several accounts
Young Woman
Conned to bail out her UK based suitor as custom officials had caught him carrying a lot of pounds
Paid Rs 4.8 Lakhs (7000 USD)
35 year old woman
Conned into supporting an allegedly US based suitor out of his financial difficulties
Paid Rs 1.2 Crore  (184000 USD)
40 year old woman
Conned into bailing out her UK suitor due to a sticky payment at customs
Paid Rs 4.65 Lakhs (7000 USD)

There will be a large number of unreported scams as they involve threats of defamation using explicit photos or video’s shared during the relationship.

I would again remind cybercitizens, that conmen actively target you, use social engineering techniques to gain your trust, and know how to hide themselves on the Internet. These conmen are often difficult to trace or it is simply too expensive to do so.


My recommendation is to use common sense when in an untrusted and unverified relationship. Any request for money should sound a loud buzzer in your brain. Do not also share content of sexual nature which could later be used against you.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

LuciusonSecurity ranked among the Top 100 Information Security Blogs for Data Security Professionals

LuciusonSecurity is privileged to be chosen as one of the Top 100 Information Security Blogs for Data Security Professionals in 2017 by feedspot.com.






Disgruntled Driver asks Share Ride Cab Company OLA to Pay Ransom for Kidnapped Passenger

A doctor called a shared ride cab to drive him to the private hospital where he worked. The shared ride arrived on time, but instead of taking the doctor to his destination, the driver threatened the doctor and kidnapped him.  The OLA cab driver, in turn posted a ransom request of Rs 5 Crore (750,000 USD) to the shared ride company, even calling up the hospital were the doctor worked to pressurize the company into paying. The Delhi police, were successful after a 13 day chase to free the doctor unharmed and nab the kidnapper.

The motive for the kidnapping was to teach the shared ride company a lesson as they were miffed due to alleged nonpayment of incentives.

The incident simply highlights the damage disgruntled employees can cause, many a times due to uncontrolled emotions. While the kidnapping seems to be one of a kind, incidents caused by employees in the workplace is quite common. In the early days, it used to be sabotage of plan and machinery, but in a digital world it is the theft of IP, data or even online defamation of the company and its personnel.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Twelve Commandments that will never fail to Keep You Cyber Safe Online

As the digital world explodes with a variety of new online services, cyber threats have become more ingenuous, dangerous, and spawned multiple variants and types. As each new threat makes the headline, the accompanying set of threat specific security recommendations confuses cybercitizens. Cybercitizens want a comprehensive list of recommendations that do not change frequently.

There are twelve foundational security practices that will help keep you and your family safe. Practicing them will harden your defenses against cybercrime and also reduce the negative effects of social media use.

1)    Thou shalt not use a device with pirated software
Pirated software is not patched as it is unlicensed. Unpatched software have security vulnerabilities which can be easily exploited to steal data and credentials

2)    Thou shalt not use a device which is not set for automatic updates of Operating System patches
Automatic patching for personal devices is the best way to ensure that the latest security patches are applied and security loopholes closed before cybercriminals can get to them

3)    Thou shalt not use a device without updated antimalware (antivirus) software installed
Antimalware software reduces the probability of a malware infection (e.g. ransomware) on your device. For it to be effective to catch the latest malware variants, it has to be automatically updated with the latest updates.

4)    Thou shall not download pirated movies, games and other such material
Something free may turn out to be expensive, both financially and to your reputation. Malware is usually bundled with pirated content or applications

5)    Thou shall not use a site without trying to verify its authenticity
Authenticity of a site can be verified by the Lock Icon and accompanying digital certificate. While not fool proof, it reduces the possibility of spoofed lookalike sites designed to steal your credentials

6)    Thou shall not ignore inappropriate content on social networks, always report or dislike it
Inappropriate content influences the minds of our children as they stumble upon it online. Hate content in particular may induce biases which take a long time to reverse.

7)    Thou shalt not indulge or encourage cyber bullying online
A parent or teacher has the additional responsibility of guiding children on the right online behavior. You do not want your children to bully or be bullied

8)    Thou shalt not use passwords that can be easily guessed and promise to  keep the password a secret
Try to choose complex passwords, do not reuse them on multiple sites and always store them securely. The easiest way to get into your online accounts is by stealing your passwords

9)    Thou shalt not fall be tempted by fraudulent emails promising financial windfalls or miracle cures or cheap medicines
Try to check the authenticity of the email. Electronic communication is easily manipulated, as it is difficult to verify the authenticity of the sender. Scams like these can cost you money and affect your health.

10) Thou shall not forsake your responsibility of helping your older parents or young kids to be safe as they use the internet
Be a guide and easily available as both old and young learn to use the internet and face cyber risks. Being available, requires that you can be reached for instant advice on problems they encounter

11) Thou shalt never trust a stranger blindly online
Always be suspicious when dealing with online strangers. At any point during the relationship never let down your guard. The identity of an online person cannot be easily verified. It can however be easily manipulated. Online friends sometimes have the vilest of intention which can lead to all forms of blackmail, particularly if they have incriminating pictures and videos. Besides adults, young children are potential victims

12) Thou shalt not set a weak password for your mobile phone or keep it unlocked
A stolen phone with an easy to guess password or if unlocked, is a sure invitation into all your signed in accounts and personal data. A large number of phones are left unattended or lost each year.



Friday, February 10, 2017

Are my password freely available on the Internet? Four actions that can minimize damage

Frequently we hear of large data breaches from email, social networking, news and other types of websites which we are members off.  Many of us may have been challenged by the site owner to change our password when the site suffered a breach and would even have received a breach notification email.

It would however be useful to have a service which could tell us if our passwords were available in plain text online, anytime we wished. The good news is that a security blogger Troy Hunt has set-up a site http://haveibeenpwned.com/   Here you could enter your email id (a common login credential) and find out if the corresponding password was exposed on breached sites.  The bad news is that it covers only data breaches where the hacker has dumped the compromised list of passwords on paste sites such as PasteBin. This represent a small fraction of the passwords exposed and in all probability allowed a window of time for the hacker to gain access to your account before the breach was uncovered. It also allows anyone (friend, foe, bully, ex-partner, relative, competitor and colleague) who knows your email id to check for the password, and selectively target you.

My advice to all Cybercitizens in general but more specifically after you discover that your password has been exposed is to”

1.    Never reuse that exposed password and to never reuse password on multiple sites. A single exposure can have a cascading effect in the compromise of your online assets. If you have used the same password on multiple sites then quickly change the password on all of them.
2.    To use two factor authentication which a large majority of sites offer to limit the use of disclosed passwords
3.    To change your passwords once every 3 months to limit the exposure window. In large dumps the hacker may take time to target your account and if you have changed your password by then, you would get lucky
4.    To quickly change passwords once you are aware that there has been a breach