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Thursday, 28 September 2017 08:49

Deloitte did little to ensure safety of data: claim Featured

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The data breach at accountancy firm Deloitte shows that while the company may know a great deal about security, it appears to have done little to make sure that the vast amount of data it has is safe, the head of a cyber security firm claims.

Itay Glick (below, right), chief executive of Israel-based Votiro, told iTWire in response to queries that there was a difference between between using old technology and applying bad security practices. This was after iTWire pointed to published evidence that Deloitte was using rather old technology.

The news of the Deloitte breach came to light on 25 September when The Guardian published a detailed report. The company is yet to make a public statement even though the breach is said to have occurred last year and discovered in March this year.

"While I can’t say with certainty what technology and solutions they were (and are) using, I can say that their security practices are outdated and need to improve," Glick said. "As with similar mega breaches that happened during 2017, bad security practices paved the way for attackers rather than sophisticated exploits."

When Glick was asked whether the fact that Deloitte's email system was hosted on Microsoft's Azure cloud had anything to do with the breach, he said this was not material.

itay glick votiro vert"I don’t have specific details (other than what has been reported online) of the attack," Glick told iTWire. "If the reports are accurate and the attackers got in using stolen administrator credentials, it makes no difference if the platform was of Microsoft, Google, Amazon etc. Stolen credentials will work anywhere (assuming no 2FA is applied, which happens to be the case)."

But he was quick to agree that Deloitte's apparent policy of remaining close-mouthed about the breach was not the way to tackle such an incident.

"In my view, public disclosure is the best way to deal with these types of things," said Glick whose company has been in business for the last seven years and counts a number of big global businesses among its clients.

"When important things are left in the dark, it usually implies that there is something to hide. When it’s regarding customer data and private information that has been leaked, more secrets cannot do any good."

He said iTWire's assertion that customers were likely to be tied to the firm not merely due to the quality of its business solutions would not hold good when it came to matters of trust.

"As with anything else that requires trust – once it has been eroded, so will customer confidence in the company. Would you keep your money in a bank that’s been known to have security issues? Would you go to a doctor that’s been known to have hygiene problems?" Glick asked.

It was pointed out to Glick that in some Deloitte offices, the ports 445 and 139, common points of attack in Microsoft systems, were exposed to the Internet, and this did not seem to suggest that Deloitte knew a great deal about security.

His response was that security is a matter of actions. "They might know a great deal about security, but they've done very little to make sure they and their vast amount of data are safe, and so it backfired," he said.

"The tip is, which applies to everyone from private people to corporations, don’t wait on security. Most will try to get things going and deal with security later on, but the problem is that often once things are up and running, people will move on to the next item on the list and never deal with security issues."

Glick said security was an ongoing process of staying on top of things, and knowing what hardware, firmware and software were in use, updating and patching regularly and staying up-to-date with current events.

"Embracing the warm feeling of 'it won’t happen to me' is a risk, and the bigger you are the more you have to lose."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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