Authorities in the United Kingdom have made unauthorized copies of data stored inside a EU database for tracking undocumented migrants, missing people, stolen cars, or suspected criminals.
Named the Schengen Information System (SIS), this is a EU-run database that stores information such as names, personal details, photographs, fingerprints, and arrest warrants for 500,000 non-EU citizens denied entry into Europe, over 100,000 missing people, and over 36,000 criminal suspects.
The database was created for the sole purpose of helping EU countries manage access to the passport-free Schengen travel zone.
The UK was granted access to this database in 2015, even if it’s not an official member of the Schengen zone.
2018 report revealed violations on the UK’s side
In May 2018, reporters from EU Observer obtained a secret EU report that highlighted years of violations in managing the SIS database by UK authorities.
According to the report, UK officials made copies of this database and stored it at airports and ports in unsafe conditions. Furthermore, by making copies, the UK was always working with outdated versions of the database.
This meant UK officials wouldn’t know in time if a person was removed from SIS, resulting in unnecessary detainments, or if a person was added to the database, allowing criminals to move through the UK and into the Schengen travel zone.
Furthermore, they also mismanaged and misused this data by providing unsanctioned access to this highly-sensitive and secret information to third-party contractors, including US companies (IBM, ATOS, CGI, and others).
The report expressed concerns that by doing so, the UK indirecly allowed contractors to copy this data as well, or allow US officials to request the database from a contractor under the US Patriot Act.
Report confirmed this week
At the time, EU authorities never confirmed the report’s validity. However, in comments made earlier this week, EU officials inadvertantly admitted to the report’s existence, and its accuracy.
“Those are meant to be confidential discussions that we have with the individual member states,” said European Commissioner for Security Julian King, as quoted by Schengen Visa Info and EU Observer, earlier this week.
“It is not just one member state that has some challenges in this area, there are a number of member states that have challenges in this area,” he added.
As a result of these comments, Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch politician and a Member of the European Parliament, has requested that the European Commission make the report public and reveal the real depth of the UK’s abuse and mismanagement of this highly sensitive database — which will also be at the core of a EU-wide biometrics system in the upcoming future.
Related government coverage:
The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security
This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.
These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.
Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.
If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.
Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise
This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.
Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.
In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.
CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions
Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.
Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.
“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”
As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.
Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.
“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.
So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:
“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”
Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.
“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”
Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast
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