AntiPublic, British Airways and the Italian Data Protection Supervisor

Italy just discovered AntiPublic, the next data-leak with about half a million of personal accounts made publicly available by the lack of care of “trusted” websites in handling its “security measures”.

British Airways got a shut down of its IT infrastructure due, according to the Italian newspaper Repubblica.it, a lack of management of the business continuity plan.

This two cases, while unrelated, are both evidence of an infringement of the EU Data Protection Directive (95/46/CE).

In the AntiPublic data-leak the reason why is obvious, as it should be for the British Airways IT infrastructure “freeze”: business continuity, indeed, is one of the security measures that the Data Processor should enforce to avoid damages arising from the unavailability of personal data.

This is a challenge for the (Italian) Data Protection Supervisor. He can either look elsewhere, or open an investigation to ascertain what happened and who is the culprit of these personal data mismanagement.

The EU Directive 95/46 and his own case law give the Italian Data Protection Supervisor the power to act even outside the national and European jurisdictions, so there wouldn’t be a motive no to start an investigation.

So, if the Italian Data Protection Authority will actually starts poking around to find out the “truth”, then a message is sent to the business and civil servant community: we don’t need to wait for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to enter into force, to exercise our prerogatives against no matter who.

Should he, on the contrary, look elsewhere, the message would have a very different meaning. Citizen, companies and public services might be led to think that all the “early warnings” about the upcoming GDPR and the dire consequences of the non compliance are just a pre-emptive notice of some sort of “hidden tax payment through fines” approach, targeted against SME, some big Italian company and a couple of USA multinationals.)

In the meantime, AntiPublic & C shall continue to access unnoticed our personal data, while citizen will continue paying the consequences (in term of damages and lack of services) of the poor compliance to a set of provisions that, just yet, are felt as useless bureaucratic burden.

When Security Becomes Service Disruption: the Banca Popolare di Bari Case

The message reads: For security reasons, this ATM doesn’t provide cash between Friday, 16,30 and Monday, 09,00. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

This way of looking at IT Security reminds me of those Security “Managers” who were use to advise to unplug the Ethernet cable at the daily close of business, to put it back the very next day.

Security can’t be a way to make the customers’ life more miserable. The challenge of a Security Manager is exactly the opposite: let customers doing their business while keeping the environment safe.

 

Phoney and the forensics value of Iphone chat

Phoneys is a software that allows a user to change the content of an Iphone chat thus altering the meaning of the conversation.While this is just an entertainment software, it might have some disturbing impacts on a possible criminal investigation.

Indeed, SMS, chat transcripts and messages are routinely used as a source of evidence by lawyers and prosecutors on the basis that if something is on a phone it can be hardly be faked. Of course, this is not always true, of course evidences must be corroborated by independent checks, of course the legal community is not that dumb to give face value to a text on a phone screen. But…

Phoneys allows a malicious person to create a prima facie deceiving fact, by exploiting the fact that a message has actually been sent, thus leading the investigator into thinking that a conversation took place with the intended correspondent. In an emergency context, the necessity of taking immediate action might push him to under evaluate what has been shown as “evidence”, thus jeopardizing the final result.

Maybe this is a either a minor or non-existent issue. But judicial reality has proven to be more surprising then legal-thriller. So, next time you’re confronted with a message as an evidence, why not double check?

Just in case…

After Apple, Facebook Is the Next Target of Judicial Orders to Cooperate With Prosecutors

According to a statement published on the Brazilian Policia Federal’s website, a criminal court issued a “mandado de priso preventiva” (roughly, pre-emptive arrest order) against Facebook’s representative in Brazil, charged of not having cooperated in providing information about a Facebook page.

The Brazilian Court, unlike the San Bernardino’s one in the Apple case, chose to put its white gloves off and go straight for the jugular, leaving no doubt about the fact that cooperation with the public prosecutor is a mandatory duty for everybody, tech-companies included.

By comparing the Apple and the Facebook cases (and Google’s public position about the topic) a disturbing trend emerges: Internet companies (at least the so said “Over The Top” – OTT) “think different” about themselves. Why the OTT should be let alone, when an ISP is burdened (often for free, BTW), to provide a public prosecutor with wiretapping, data-retention, forensic support, and data-mining services? Like it or not, corporate criminal liability and obstruction to justice regulation still work for the OTT too, and the OTT must live with it.

This Facebook case further supports the opinion I’ve expressed about the true issue at stake: by one side, the lack of confidence is our social and legal system as a whole and thus the fact that you can’t actually trust a magistrate and a law enforcement agency; by the other side the “ubermensch” syndrome that affects (not only high-tech) companies and that leads them into thinking that they have the “right” (or the power) to part the right from wrong.