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Thursday, 06 June 2019 10:38

ANU breach due to the kind of data it held: security pro Featured

ANU breach due to the kind of data it held: security pro Supplied

The Australian National University suffered a data breach because of the type of data it held, a security professional from privileged account management solution provider Thycotic claims.

Joseph Carson, chief security scientist and advisory chief information security officer, also said that it was unwise to indulge in premature attribution of the attack before a detailed investigation was carried out.

"If you require lots of sensitive data from applicants, employees and contractors and this data is valuable, then you need to ensure the right security controls are in place and de-risk the data to make it more difficult for cyber criminals to get access," he said

"Cyber criminals will first recon the enrolment process to identify what type of data is required and, if it is valuable, then they will go after the data.

“However, we must learn that calling all data breaches sophisticated and rushing to attribution before a detailed investigation has been completed is not a good policy.”

The ANU revealed the breach on Monday, admitting that the attackers had been inside its systems since late 2018.

The personal details of staff, students and visitors over the past 19 years were said to have been exposed.

Commenting on the value of the information accessed and what was driving such attacks, Carson said: “The value here could be many things, but identity theft and IP theft are most likely the top targets here.”

As to what organisations like the ANU should be doing to protect private information, he said they must evaluate the data they require and minimise it as much as possible.

"Then [they should] de-risk the data into multiple data vaults to ensure several security controls are in place to protect the data.

“In addition to de-risking, strong encryption and privileged access security should be a top priority to make it difficult for even advanced cyber criminals to gain access.”

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Sam Varghese

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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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