May 132019

Jayed Rahman reports that Paterson Public Schools in New Jersey was hacked. The attacker allegedly acquired 23,103 account passwords and other computer access tokens.

Information stolen in the breach includes desktop logins, email usernames and passwords, and laptop credentials. For example, the email usernames and passwords of all school district employees — including that of the superintendent, administrators, teachers, and other staff members — were dumped, deposited into a file that runs more than 116,000 lines.

According to the Paterson Times, who learned about the breach before the district did, usernames were in plain text but passwords were encrypted, but easily crackable.

The attacker reportedly contacted the newspaper on Thursday, using a fictitious email account. When the paper ignored the email, the attacker came back on Saturday with a proffer and screenshots.

Of significant concern is the question of whether the attacker, who initially tried to sell the data to the paper for an undisclosed amount, still has access to any district server(s), as they claim they do. The individual claimed to have stolen the passwords in October 2018. Why did he/they wait so long to try to sell them, then?

Also of concern, the attacker was reportedly spooked when told that the paper was going to report on the breach, and the attacker cancelled the email account that was being use to communicate with the paper.

So are the Paterson data out there anywhere on the dark web for sale? Does the attacker still have access?

There’s a lot for the district to find out. In the meantime, hopefully they’re forcing a complete password reset for everyone and requiring unique passwords that haven’t been used by employees anywhere else.

Update: Paterson is forcing a password reset, yes, but there’s more — and it’s significant.  Preliminary investigation is suggesting that it may not be what a lot of us may have thought it was.

“The obtained information is about eight months old, and could have been obtained by an employee who worked for the district at that time,” said [Superintendent Eileen] Shafer. She did not identify the name of the former employee.

However, the district’s chief attorney, Robert E. Murray, in a letter to the Paterson Times, asserts there were multiple actors. His letter says, “the person or persons who accessed our system and took certain data may not be working alone.”

Shafer said there is “no reason” to believe the security of the district’s email server was breached, but that “someone clearly hoped to create the impression that it was.” She said the matter is being referred to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office for investigation.

May 132019

Twitter’s online Help section has the following notice:

You trust us to be careful with your data, and because of that, we want to be open with you when we make a mistake. We have discovered that we were inadvertently collecting and sharing iOS location data with one of our trusted partners in certain circumstances.

Specifically, if you used more than one account on Twitter for iOS and opted into using the precise location feature in one account, we may have accidentally collected location data when you were using any other account(s) on that same device for which you had not turned on the precise location feature.

Separately, we had intended to remove location data from the fields sent to a trusted partner during an advertising process known as real-time bidding. This removal of location did not happen as planned. However, we had implemented technical measures to “fuzz” the data shared so that it was no more precise than zip code or city (5km squared). This location data could not be used to determine an address or to map your precise movements. The partner did not receive data such as your Twitter handle or other unique account IDs that could have compromised your identity on Twitter. This means that for people using Twitter for iOS who we inadvertently collected location information from, we may also have shared that information with a trusted advertising partner.

We have confirmed with our partner that the location data has not been retained and that it only existed in their systems for a short time, and was then deleted as part of their normal process.

We have fixed this problem and are working hard to make sure it does not happen again. We have also communicated with the people whose accounts were impacted to let them know the bug has been fixed. We invite you to check your privacy settings to make sure you’re only sharing the data you want to with us.

We’re very sorry this happened. We recognize and appreciate the trust you place in us and are committed to earning that trust every day.

If you have any questions, you may contact Twitter’s Office of Data Protection through this form.

As an aside, I note that Twitter lets you upload files or attachments to the data protection form or inquiry but doesn’t let you upload files or attachments if you’re complaining about your personal information being exposed by a Twitter user.  If they can let users upload files for data protection inquiries, why not for data protection complaints about users?

May 132019

I realize that some will fault the entity for making early notification before they have all the facts, but my hat is off to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).  On May 6, they suffered – and quickly stopped – a successful spear-phishing attack that gave the attacker access to one employee’s mail account. That account held protected health information on patients in the state psychiatric hospital (Oregon State Hospital).

Uncertain as to exactly who had ePHI in that account and unsure whether any of the data was even accessed or copied, OHA notified state attorneys general and provided a media notice to let people know what had happened and that they would be bringing in experts to help them determine exactly who had ePHI in the mail account and whether it was accessed.

According to their media notice, the compromised emails contained patients’:

first and last names, dates of birth, medical record numbers, diagnoses, treatment care plans and other information used to provide treatment for patients at the psychiatric hospital.

OHA indicates that they will provide additional information and follow up with affected individuals.

While there is no indication that any protected health information was copied from its email system or used inappropriately, Oregon State Hospital is notifying all patients that their information was potentially compromised. Once the review is complete, OHA will send individual notices to patients whose information was confirmed to be in the compromised emails.

According to its site, OSH serves 1,400 people per year.

Their notification really does impress me.  They caught the unauthorized access quickly and stopped it quickly, and within 4 days, had notified states and issued a media release.  Yes, there’s a lot we don’t know yet, but this is some great transparency that they are demonstrating.

Oregon State Hospital

As a trivia side note:  the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was filmed at the Oregon State Hospital in the 1970’s.

May 132019

Condé Nast is notifying about 1,100 WIRED subscribers of a breach involving their payment information.

In a notification letter dated May 9, they write:

The WIRED subscription page is hosted by a third-party vendor. We believe that an unauthorized party accessed our vendor’s systems in an attempt to acquire information about approximately 1,100 WIRED subscription transactions processed between April 14 and April 17, 2019.
An investigation was undertaken and, by April 24, we learned that the information that may have been acquired included names, postal and email addresses, and credit/debit card numbers, security codes, and card
expiration dates.
The unsigned notification does not name the vendor for the WIRED subscription page.
Those affected are being offered Experian’s IdentityWorks credit monitoring and identity protection services for one year.
May 132019

OS, Inc. provides revenue management (billing) services to covered entities. I recently reported on a phishing-related breach they experienced in 2018 that was first disclosed this month. As I noted in that post, their notification specifically mentioned a number of their affected clients. Their disclosure did not, however, provide a total number of patients affected, nor name clients who probably wanted to make the disclosure to their patients themselves.

So here’s what we know so far, and there’s likely a lot more to come:

  • Spectrum Health Lakeland: they disclosed the breach to 1,100 St. Joseph’s patients
  • Tahoe Forest Health District – mentioned in OS’s notice, but no release or numbers from them yet.
  • Sparta Community Hospital – mentioned in OS’s notice, but no release or numbers from them yet.
  • Sauk Prairie Healthcare, Inc. – mentioned in OS’s notice, but no release or numbers from them yet.
  • Idaho Department of Health and Welfare – mentioned in OS’ notice. A media report reveals that  2,060 were notified.
  • Fort Healthcare in Wisconsin – mentioned in OS’s notice. A media report reveals that they are  reportedly notifying 19,000 patients.
  • Midwest Medical Center – not mentioned in OS’s notice, but media reports that they are notifying 8,000 patients.

I’ll try to update this post as I find more details. Feel free to let me know of any updates if you find them.