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US Military, Aussie Bank & Fox Network Affected by Data Loss

Alex Constantine - August 25, 2007

saic1.JPG - US Military, Aussie Bank & Fox Network Affected by Data LossSAIC FRAUD ALERT issued by the US Air Force (click to enlarge)

In an admission that is concerning in the modern data risk management environment, SAIC admitted that the data at risk was stored completely unprotected on a single server at a smaller SAIC site. While the data was at risk during unprotected transmission across the Internet, SAIC indicate that the disclosure took place while the data was being processed.

Even though the USAF alerted SAIC to the breach in late May, the information wasn't disclosed until much later.

While reporting of mass personal and financial data losses has largely been focussed on North America, other countries are not unaffected by the problem. The Australian Westpac banking group has reissued thousands of VISA cards after a disclosure at an unnamed third party vendor.

Finally, after a curious web surfer discovered that Fox had left a number of their directories without no-Index protection (i.e. entering the URL for that directory would lead to a list of the contents), a basic shell script was found that provided FTP access to a ZDNet server. While the disclosure of directory contents isn't much of a concern for most sites, the FTP account that was discovered provided access to records for around 1.5 million individuals, along with access to sensitive ZDNet business documents.

It has been reported that the hole has since been closed off, but in this instance the initial reporting and management of the discovery reflects poorly on the Information Security researchers who discovered it and publicised the discovery. Even if the first set of people to be notified of the breach did not actually access the ZDNet server, the complete disclosure of the authentication parameters meant that someone would soon be poking around in the system for malicious purposes. While ultimate responsibility for the disclosure rests with Fox, the incident displays a significant ethical lapse for the Information Security researchers involved (and for the wider industry - as the details were replicated across numerous sites without consideration for their sensitivity).

25 July 2007


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