DATA SCAN­DALS HAVE BEEN UN­FOLD­ING IN VAR­I­OUS PLACES

Apple Magazine - - Summary -

Although the Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica scan­dal has eas­ily been the most se­ri­ous data scan­dal of this year, you don’t nec­es­sar­ily need to have used Face­book to have cause for con­cern about the safety of your per­sonal data. In 2018, re­searchers found that the fit­ness app Po­lar en­abled them to track lo­ca­tions of mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity ser­vices users. The re­searchers sourced per­sonal de­tails – such as names, heart rates and ar­eas of res­i­dency – of over 6,460 per­son­nel be­fore pub­li­ciz­ing the leak.

In June came the dis­cov­ery that Florid­abased data bro­ker Ex­ac­tis had left al­most 340 mil­lion in­di­vid­ual records of US data – on both cit­i­zens and busi­nesses – ex­posed on a pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble server. “It seems like this is a data­base with pretty much ev­ery US ci­ti­zen in it,” Vinny Troia, the se­cu­rity re­searcher who made the dis­cov­ery, told WIRED. That was no small con­cern given that the data in­cluded such highly per­sonal char­ac­ter­is­tics as phone num­bers and home ad­dresses.

While the ex­po­sure of 230 mil­lion Amer­i­can cit­i­zens’ data might ini­tially seem like a dis­as­ter, it pales in sig­nif­i­cance com­pared to a sep­a­rate breach af­fect­ing the In­dian gov­ern­ment’s biometric sys­tem Aad­haar. Per­sonal in­for­ma­tion – in­clud­ing fin­ger­prints and home ad­dresses – of vir­tu­ally all of In­dia’s 1.1 bil­lion cit­i­zens are on this sys­tem. How­ever, in March, a se­cu­rity re­searcher ex­plained to ZDNet how the sys­tem was dan­ger­ously in­suf­fi­cient in its se­cu­rity.

What about those Mar­riott and Pan­era Bread leaks? In the for­mer case, Mar­riott re­vealed in Novem­ber, that hack­ers had snatched prac­ti­cally ev­ery data point of 327 mil­lion peo­ple who had stayed at Star­wood prop­er­ties of the ho­tel group since 2014. Mean­while, in April came the rev­e­la­tion that records of Pan­era Bread cus­tomers – in­clud­ing names and phys­i­cal ad­dresses – had been leak­ing from the sand­wich chain’s web­site for eight months.

Im­age: Noah See­lam

Im­age: Justin Sul­li­van

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