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Freedom Mobile data breach impacts thousands of customers

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Inside Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations report
ZDNet’s Larry Dignan tells TechRepublic’s Karen Roby that the contents of Verizon’s 2019 Data breach Investigations report finds that nation states and espionage are becoming a worry for businesses. Read more: https://zd.net/2WtkXFN

Freedom Mobile, a major Canadian telecommunications provider, has revealed a data breach which may have exposed sensitive information belonging to thousands of customers.

On Tuesday, cybersecurity researchers Noam Rotem and Ran Locar from vpnMentor said they were able to access a database belonging to Canada’s fourth-largest telco, which was “totally unprotected and unencrypted.”

The database contained the email addresses of customers, phone and mobile numbers, home addresses, dates of birth, customer types, and IP addresses linked to payment methods.

In addition, the researchers say that unencrypted financial data was exposed, including credit numbers and security codes (CVV numbers), alongside credit score responses from Equifax and other credit monitoring services.

Freedom Mobile account numbers, subscription dates, billing cycle dates, and customer service records could also be accessed.

“These records seem to reflect any action taken within a user account, allowing for multiple entries per customer,” the researchers say.

See also: Nation state actors, affiliates behind increasing amount of data breaches

The leak was discovered on April 17, 2019. After attempting to contact the telecommunications giant multiple times, Rotem and Locar received a response on April 24 and the leak was plugged on the same day.

VpnMentor’s researchers say that up to 1.5 million active Freedom Mobile users may have been impacted by the breach and they had full access to over five million records — but as an ethical sticking point the team did not download the database, and so it is not known exactly how many individuals were involved.

Calgary-based Freedom Mobile has hit back against this estimate and claims that the 1.5 million figure is “inaccurate.” Instead, the telco says that only 15,000 customers were affected.

The company claims that customers at 17 retail stores who recently opened or changed account information were involved, according to the Globe and Mail, and the incident occurred due to a new third-party company, Apptium Technologies, which was recently brought in to streamline retail systems.

TechRepublic: 90% of data breaches in US occur in New York and California

Freedom Mobile said that there is no evidence that the leaked data has been abused, nor have the firm’s internal systems been compromised in any way.

This is not the only high-profile data breach which has been disclosed this week. In related news, Binance, one of the most popular cryptocurrency trading platforms worldwide, revealed a “large-scale security breach” which has led to the theft of over 7,000 Bitcoin (BTC), which equates to roughly $41 million. Binance intends to absorb the theft so customers are not impacted.

CNET: Border officials don’t have data to address racial bias in facial recognition tech

ZDNet has reached out to Freedom Mobile with additional queries and will update if we hear back. 

Previous and related coverage


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Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications

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Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.

Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection

“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”

In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.

A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.

Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.

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When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?

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DevOps’ general aim is to enable a more efficient process for producing software and technology solutions and bringing stakeholders together to speed up delivery. But we know from experience that this inherently creative, outcome-driven approach often forgets about one thing until too late in the process—security. Too often, security is brought into the timeline just before deployment, risking last minute headaches and major delays. The security team is pushed into being the Greek chorus of the process, “ruining everyone’s fun” by demanding changes and slowing things down.

But as we know, in the complex, multi-cloud and containerized environment we find ourselves in, security is becoming more important and challenging than ever. And the costs of security failure are not only measured in slower deployment, but in compliance breaches and reputational damage.

The term “DevSecOps” has been coined to characterize how security needs to be at the heart of the DevOps process. This is in part principle and part tools. As a principle, DevSecOps fits with the concept of “shifting left,” that is, ensuring that security is treated as early as possible in the development process. So far, so simple.

From a tooling perspective, however, things get more complicated, not least because the market has seen a number of platforms marketing themselves as DevSecOps. As we have been writing our Key Criteria report on the subject, we have learned that not all DevSecOps vendors are necessarily DevSecOps vendors. Specifically, we have learned to distinguish capabilities that directly enable the goals of DevSecOps from a process perspective, from those designed to support DevSecOps practices. We could define them as: “Those that do, and those that help.”

This is how to tell the two types of vendor apart and how to use them.

Vendors Enabling DevSecOps: “Tools That Do”

A number of tools work to facilitate the DevSecOps process -– let’s bite the bullet and call them DevSecOps tools. They help teams set out each stage of software development, bringing siloed teams together behind a unified vision that allows fast, high-quality development, with security considerations at its core. DevSecOps tools work across the development process, for example:

  • Create: Help to set and implement policy
  • Develop: Apply guidance to the process and aid its implementation
  • Test: Facilitate and guide security testing procedures
  • Deploy: Provide reports to assure confidence to deploy the application

The key element that sets these tool sets apart is the ability to automate and reduce friction within the development process. They will prompt action, stop a team from moving from one stage to another if the process has not adequately addressed security concerns, and guide the roadmap for the development from start to finish.

Supporting DevSecOps: “Tools That Help”

In this category we place those tools which aid the execution, and monitoring, of good DevSecOps principles. Security scanning and application/infrastructure hardening tools are a key element of these processes: Software composition analysis (SCA) forms a part of the development stage, static/dynamic application security testing (SAST/DAST) is integral to the test stage and runtime app protection (RASP) is a key to the Deploy stage.

Tools like this are a vital part of the security layer of security tooling, especially just before deployment – and they often come with APIs so they can be plugged into the CI/CD process. However, while these capabilities are very important to DevSecOps, they can be seen in more of a supporting role, rather than being DevSecOps tools per se.

DevSecOps-washing is not a good idea for the enterprise

While one might argue that security should never have been shifted right, DevSecOps exists to ensure that security best practices take place across the development lifecycle. A corollary exists to the idea of “tools that help,” namely that organizations implementing these tools are not “doing DevSecOps,” any more than vendors providing these tools are DevSecOps vendors.

The only way to “do” DevSecOps is to fully embrace security at a process management and governance level: This means assessing risk, defining policy, setting review gates, and disallowing progress for insecure deliverables. Organizations that embrace DevSecOps can get help from what we are calling DevSecOps tools, as well as from scanning and hardening tools that help support its goals.

At the end of the day, all security and governance boils down to risk: If you buy a scanning tool so you can check a box that says “DevSecOps,” you are potentially adding to your risk posture, rather than mitigating it. So, get your DevSecOps strategy fixed first, then consider how you can add automation, visibility, and control using “tools that do,” as well as benefit from “tools that help.”

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High Performance Application Security Testing

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research. It is hosted by an expert in Application and API testing, and GigaOm analyst, Jake Dolezal. His presentation will focus on the results of high performance testing we completed against two security mechanisms: ModSecurity on NGINX and NGINX App Protect. Additionally, we tested the AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a fully managed security offering.

While performance is important, it is only one criterion for a Web Application Firewall selection. The results of the report are revealing about these platforms. The methodology will be shown with clarity and transparency on how you might replicate these tests to mimic your own workloads and requirements.

Register now to join GigaOm and sponsor NGINX for this free expert webinar.

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