Category Archives: business

The Guardian view on Boris Johnson’s NHS plan: trading patient data | Editorial

Donald Trump has made clear he wants a post-Brexit Britain to let US tech companies and big pharma access medical records

The NHS is a goldmine of patient data which the United States wants to be quarried by some of its biggest companies. Britain’s health service is home to a unique medical dataset that covers the entire population from birth to death. Jeremy Corbyn’s NHS press conference revealed that the US wanted its companies to get unrestricted access to the UK’s medical records, thought to be worth £10bn a year. A number of tech companies – including Google – already mine small parts of the NHS store. Ministers have been treading carefully after an attempt to create a single patient database for commercial exploitation was scrapped in 2016 when it emerged there was no way for the public to work out who would have access to their medical records or how they were using them.

However, such caution might be thrown to the wind if Boris Johnson gets his way over Brexit – and patients’ privacy rights are traded away for US market access. This would be a damaging step, allowing US big tech and big pharma to collect sensitive, personal data on an unprecedented scale. Donald Trump’s officials have already made clear that this is what they are aiming for. In the leaked government records of talks between US and UK trade representatives White House officials state that “the free flow of data is a top priority” in a post-Brexit world. Trump’s team see Brexit as an opportunity “to avoid forcing companies to disclose algorithms”. The US wants the UK to drop the EU’s 2018 data law, in which individuals must be told what is happening with their medical data, even if scrubbed of personal identifiers.

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What Worries CISOs Most In 2019

We recently held a valuable conversation (and a great dinner) with about a dozen senior IT security leaders in Atlanta, Georgia. I was fortunate to attend and discuss what plagues them most.

Here are some of their concerns.

Many face considerable change in their business environments – one third of the companies called out the high pace of acquisitions as a source of risk.

Acquisitions draw down information security resources disproportionately. First, IT security must participate in the due diligence phase, prior to the actual acquisition. Under significant time pressure, and strictly bound by the terms of the governing NDA, the InfoSec team must verify the integrity of the target environment’s IT infrastructure. It must render a judgment on the trustworthiness of the underlying procedures, the competence of the support team, the appropriateness of funding and staffing, the effectiveness of policy and awareness training, the fitness of the security technology judged against the changing mission of the target firm, and the accessibility of crucial information. In regulated industries, the acquirer has to review past certifications, audit findings and recommendations, and earlier security events, including how they were handled, and how the organization effectively integrated lessons learned into its updated way of doing business. Some of the attendees reported an acquisition every six weeks over the past two years or more. This pace requires efficient process maturity and open communication among the team members, and ample trust.

Some CIOs reported the challenge of balancing the executive team’s need to know with the managerial desire to optimize team focus on critical initiatives. In the Boardroom and among the C-suite, IT remains a hot topic and IT security is a known vulnerability. This leads some organizations toward micromanaging the IT security team. As we all know, this inappropriate focus has two costs: first, it distracts the Board and the C-suite from their primary missions. Second, it distracts the people doing the job from their task. One effective tactic some adopted is the weekly – or even daily – newsletter. This document provides the status for ongoing projects, notes about top performers, assessment of newly discovered vulnerabilities, and pointers towards effective risk mitigation the leadership team can bring to their respective operational areas. When a Board member has a question for the team, the CISO can intercept it and post a response through the newsletter.

Many CISOs discussed their challenges with BYOD policies. Some mentioned concerns with GDPR impeding their ability to wipe corporate applications and information from employee-owned devices. It’s unclear how to balance that business requirement with privacy concerns for smart phones. With laptops, one approach is to limit corporate access through a locked-down virtual desktop image accessed through a secure VPN. An evil-minded employee could take a picture of the screen, but that attack works on a corporate laptop just as well.

BEC remains a concern, along with phishing attacks leading to possible ransomware infections. One approach is to ignore emails from new domains – those that are less than two months old. This would exclude email from nearly all attackers; anyone legitimately trying to reach an employee will try again in time.

The meeting was quite open and convivial. It was an honor to participate in the discussion, and I look forward to similar meetings in the future. My thanks to the participants!

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below, or message me @WilliamMalikTM!

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7-Eleven fuel app data breach exposes users’ personal details

App users were able to see other customers’ data, including names, dates of birth and mobile numbers

The popular petrol-buying app run by 7-Eleven has suffered a data breach that allowed customers to view the names, email addresses, mobile numbers and dates of birth of other users.

The 7-Eleven fuel app, which the company said this week has been downloaded two million times, was taken offline for a matter of hours on Thursday after a customer alerted the company to the fact that he was able to access the personal information of several other customers via the app.

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Maths and tech specialists need Hippocratic oath, says academic

Exclusive: Hannah Fry says ethical pledge needed in tech fields that will shape future

Mathematicians, computer engineers and scientists in related fields should take a Hippocratic oath to protect the public from powerful new technologies under development in laboratories and tech firms, a leading researcher has said.

The ethical pledge would commit scientists to think deeply about the possible applications of their work and compel them to pursue only those that, at the least, do no harm to society.

Despite being invisible, maths has a dramatic impact on our lives

Related: Google whistleblower launches project to keep tech ethical

Related: To fix the problem of deepfakes we must treat the cause, not the symptoms | Matt Beard

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