“We take your privacy seriously….” Thursday edition.

I’ve been reading some other sites’ coverage of the Pfizer leak that was discovered by vpnMentor and shared exclusively with DataBreaches.net.  The incident involved a misconfigured cloud storage bucket that exposed hundreds of consumer/patient reports to Pfizer on a reporting line for drug safety concerns or other concerns. As such, it contained a lot of what would be protected health information if that program was covered by HIPAA, which it is not.

As DataBreaches.net reported, Pfizer gave a fairly standard statement about how they responded to notification, but when this site pushed them on vpnMentor’s report about how difficult it was to get Pfizer to respond and lock down the data, Pfizer simply said they disagreed with the report and characterization and wouldn’t say anything else.

And that response is concerning. If Pfizer was as concerned as they claimed, why didn’t they ask for more details so they could investigate vpnMentor’s claims?  Why didn’t they get in touch with vpnMentor to review things?

Simply claiming you disagree with a characterization and chronology is not convincing.

A commenter in a report by Emma Cooper on Pharmafield today really nails the concerns people might have about this particular incident:

Sam Curry, chief security officer at Cybereason, added: “What the recent Pfizer data breach tells us is that it is extremely difficult for even the largest companies in the world to secure their data every hour, every day and every week. It’s irrelevant whether an internal or external error led to this data breach, because the digital footprint for enterprises is expanding at such a rapid pace that errors will occur and data will be exposed. However, it is incumbent upon Pfizer to continue to do everything humanly possible to protect its IP, customer and partner data and all proprietary information. In this case, Pfizer can’t play the victim card as there certainly aren’t any customers interested in hearing excuses. What they want is transparency and guarantees that the company will continue to make sure data protection is their top priority. Let this be another wake up call for all companies to improve their security, use threat hunting services to discover malicious operations quickly so that hackers are stopped in their tracks before material damage occurs.”

This blogger agrees with Curry. Even large corporations can have difficulty and errors in data security. But it’s their response to those situations that will either inspire trust and confidence or not. Incident response matters.  A lot.  It includes entities providing and monitoring a clear way to alert them if a leak or breach or a vulnerability is detected. It also includes saying, “We don’t think we made a mistake, but tell us more so we can look into it.”

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