back to article Generally Disclosing Pretty Rapidly: GDPR strapped a jet engine on hacked British Airways

If Equifax's mother-of-all-security-disasters last year underlined one thing, it was that big companies think they can weather just about anything cybercriminals – and regulators – can throw at them. One unpatched web server, 147 million mostly US customer records swiped, and a political beating that should pulverise a company …

It's certainly got the airways of many British gulping

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Anonymous Coward

re. Reporting a breach shows awareness

while not reporting is costs money. Amazing, what a (large) stick can do to enhance the awareness and sense of responsibility, blah blah blah..

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Re: re. Reporting a breach shows awareness

I still think companies will just find a way to conceal their turnover numbers so that they can just chalk it up as The Cost of Doing Business.

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WTF?

Re: re. Reporting a breach shows awareness

Eh? That makes no sense. Worldwide Turnover was specifically chosen for GDPR because its easy to calculate and difficult to hide.

There may be a couple of arguments about which GAAP standards its calculated under but I cant see it being particularly easy to "hide" turnover. Especially since that may attract the ire of both the Tax Authorities and the Stock Exchange.

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Flame

Re: re. Reporting a breach shows awareness

It has always been a wonder to me that companies can get away with not reporting. If, for example, your local branch of your bank got visited by a couple of gentleman equiped with stocking masks and shotguns and they failed to report the matter to the police then the bank could be punished for failing to report knowledge of the commission of a criminal offence. Companies that conceal attacks on their IT-systems should be prosecuted for failing to report said offence. The senior managers responsible should end up in court.

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Re: re. Reporting a breach shows awareness

To me it is far more likely that they got hacked on 21st August and decided to cover up and say it was between 21st August and 5th September in order to avoid GDPR penalties for late disclosure.

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Re: re. Reporting a breach shows awareness

On that logic, the senior managers of some UK industrial giants I have worked with would be spending a part of every day in a police station reporting Chinese intrusion attempts.

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Re: re. Reporting a breach shows awareness

It has always been a wonder to me that companies can get away with not reporting

Surely this is something that could be covered by the insurance companies. In much the same way that you or I would need to provide a crime number if we claimed our mobile had been nicked, corporate insurers should insist on a full breach disclosure and police involvement before they pay up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: re. Reporting a breach shows awareness

Are you legally obliged to report criminal offences? I witnessed several people travelling in excess of the speed limit on my drive home from work today. One was even using their mobile phone at the time! Am I now a criminal for not reporting them to the authorities? (Posted anon, just in case)

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Re: re. Reporting a breach shows awareness

Only successful attempts have to be reported.

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FAIL

Re: re. Reporting a breach shows awareness

Read https://www.riskiq.com/blog/labs/magecart-british-airways-breach, especially the bit about how they detected it was in the modernizr.js library.

Now visit www.ba.com and follow these steps:

In your web browser right click and choose Inspect Element (IE and Safari you have to enable this)

Click Network and then JS and refresh the page.

Scroll down until you can see modernizr.js and click on it.

Notice the date for last-modified: Thu, 23 Aug 2018 12:57:01 GMT

Implies that BA were aware of this on 23rd August and are now not telling the truth.

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Going by a lot of British websites I have visited, I think a lot of British companies are hoping that after brexit the GDPR regs are going to go away. Many of them are trying to make it as difficult as possible to opt out of 'Data sharing' with them but I think they are going to be disappointed, the UK can't really afford to ignore it, as so much of it's future business is still going to depend on complying with Europe.

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Anonymous Coward

There's still plenty of 'european' residents in the UK. Doesn't matter that the UK may not be part of the EU, but its residents will still be.

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Not going to happen. It's essential for the UK to have its data protection legislation recognised as "adequate" by the EU if UK organisations are to continue seamlessly to exchange information with entities (and about people) in the EU.

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GDPR is ours anyway

Apparently we actually were its biggest enthusiasts. I can't see us rowing back on it now.

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@AC, nationality is not relevant to GDPR, it's residency. When UK is no longer part of EU, EU nationals will not be covered by GDPR while they reside in the UK, but UK citizens will still be protected when they visit EU countries.

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Re: GDPR is ours anyway

Apparently we actually were its biggest enthusiasts. I can't see us rowing back on it now.

Why on earth not? That's precisely what Theresa May did at the Home Office with the Human Rights Act.

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Anonymous Coward

"Going by a lot of British websites I have visited, I think a lot of British companies are hoping that after brexit the GDPR regs are going to go away. "

Given that we've already enacted GDPR into British law in the form of the Data Protection Act 2018, they're in for a shock.

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“Given that we've already enacted GDPR into British law in the form of the Data Protection Act 2018, they're in for a shock.”

You’re forgetting that once we’re brexited, then a single Act of Parliament can repeal any EU legislation previously enacted using wording as simple as “Act of Parliament xxxxxxxx is now repealed this date of xxx of yyy year zzzz.”

As a sovereign nation any legislation or agreement we’ve entered into with other nations can simply be repealed by our democratically elected parliament.

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Anonymous Coward

>You’re forgetting that once we’re brexited, then a single Act of Parliament can repeal any EU legislation previously enacted using wording as simple as “Act of Parliament xxxxxxxx is now repealed this date of xxx of yyy year zzzz.”

Wasn't all the fuss about the Henry VIIIth powers so that the relevant Minister could just repeal law as they saw fit. So Sajid Javid could repeal GDPR one Friday, just for fun if he so wished.

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Repealing stuff

The same goes for Brexit. There seems to be a myth that because the UK voted to brexit, we have to go ahead with it end of discussion. Even if the referendum was legally binding (which it wasn't, but that's another story) it can be overturned simply by holding another referendum. A democracy can overturn any previous decision, simply by following the democratic process. Some of the people I hear on the news that state "the people have spoken, the government must carry their wishes out" are forgetting that in a democracy, the people can change their minds, otherwise we would have political parties that once in power, couldn't be voted out.

If another referendum was held now (lets just say it's a legally binding one to keep it simple) and the result of that referendum was to remain, then the previous decision to leave has no legal standing.

I think our government may just decide to hold another referendum if things are looking messy so business can carry on as normal. Better the devil you know than the one you don't.

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"@AC, nationality is not relevant to GDPR, it's residency. When UK is no longer part of EU, EU nationals will not be covered by GDPR while they reside in the UK, but UK citizens will still be protected when they visit EU countries."

You've got that arse about face. The whole point of GDPR (and the UK version enacted in UK law) is that it applies to residents of the EU while in the EU (and UK, even after Brexit) and citizens data wherever it is, ie you can't collect and export the data to somewhere where it won't we protected, hence the kerfuffle over the US data protection figleaf.

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Anonymous Coward

You've got that arse about face. The original comment was spot on. I'll correct yours.

Data legally collected within the EU borders, about EU citizens cannot be exported out of those borders without consent.

Data collected outside the EU borders, about EU citizens, well pretty much anything goes, EU laws have no jurisdiction outside of EU borders.

If after brexit the current Data Protection Act remains in place, then anyone breaking it will be breaking UK law, they will not be breaking EU law. If post brexit the EU inspired parts of the Data Protection Act are repealed, then no law is being broken, because UK subjects will not be subject to EU laws.

Please don't confuse UK and EU laws with US laws. The Americans would like to think that US law is universal, and whilst it mostly isn't, they are a big enough bully in the playground that other nations simply let them get away with acting like it is.

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Is the ICO up to it though?

I get the feeling that despite the increasingly heavy responsibility being heaped on them, they won;t actually have the time or resource to actually deal with GDPR issues, breaches and the usual stuff they do. Oh, and the p0rn checking later.. Will government realise this and actually spend some sensible cash, or will it limp along and fail?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is the ICO up to it though?

Schrems doesn't think regulators will be enough and he's a world class expert. The UK govt is already kicking biz regulators to the sidelines. Big Corps like Google / Facebook will also appeal appeal appeal for years. The only hope is that private lawyers like Schrems / NOYB can move faster and / or EU regulators can come together as one as they're supposed to and squeeze ICO:

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"Max Schrems / NOYB: "Tech companies will likely do the maths on GDPR sanctions to see which problematic features are so profitable that they can afford to keep them running - or at least eat a one-time fine as an experiment in testing the EU"

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https://www.rte.ie/news/business/technology/2018/0816/985601-google-location-gdpr/

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"Britain’s White-Collar Cops Are Getting Too Good at Their Job - Brexit talks aren’t going well, and PM Theresa May is desperate to maintain the U.K.’s attractiveness to international capital after it finally leaves the European Union. The sudden emergence of an aggressive anticorruption agency is unhelpful to her pitch":

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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-03-01/britain-s-white-collar-cops-are-getting-too-good-at-their-job

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is the ICO up to it though?

The key question is, how independent is the ICO? If its the Govt's Regulator then expect endless conflicts of interest from 3-letter spying agencies to UK-firms etc. Government is hugely conflicted about dragnet surveillance as it gives them draconian control and crackdown abilities. Its likely UK Govt Inc will push hard for the reality below following Brexit, playing the illegal immigration card to justify it.... Ireland with its new ID card is heading the same way along with Germany too scarily:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit_System

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2018/06/18/chinas-social-credit-system-spreads-to-more-daily-transactions/

https://www.cnet.com/news/black-mirror-too-real-in-china-as-schools-shun-parents-with-bad-social-credit/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2018/jul/12/algorithm-privacy-data-surveillance

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-43428266

https://neweconomics.org/2018/07/whats-your-score

https://global.handelsblatt.com/politics/germany-mass-surveillance-social-credit-china-big-data-886786

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Less Daily Mail please ...

Not commenting on the breach, just the reporting style. Even I, an old thicko, can work out that

"detected its breach on July 29 last year, but only told the world months later on September 7"

is a bit heavy on the bias.

In my dictionary "months" would be multiples of "month". Two "month" would be a good start for "months", three would be ideal. Just because it says "July" and "September" in the timeline does not make it three months - it's still only a few days more than one. Actually "weeks" would be good ...

Perhaps if there is a breach on New Year's Eve and it is declared on New Year's Day, the report will suggest the declaration being made "years later"?

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Re: Less Daily Mail please ...

is a bit heavy on the bias.

Indeed and now I'm confused. Was the breach July 2018 or 2017? (it does say last year). In either case "months" is not really appropriate.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Less Daily Mail please ...

Maybe it needs a new register standard for time. I propose the "Ikea" which can be represented as either a "Year" (how long it feels) or "12 Hours" of actual time should you find the exit on the same day.

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Re: Less Daily Mail please ...

The Equifax breach was discovered in July 2017,it had been leaking details since May 2017 (at least),so it took 'months' to notice it was happening and a further month to bother telling anyone.A year later and we still haven't quite got the full detail released. It's not unreasonable or Daily Mail style to describe Equifaxs approach to reporting the breach as taking 'months'.

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Re: Less Daily Mail please ...

The Reg report of the declaration was on 7 Sep 2017, ie about 5 weeks after the breach. I stand by my comment.

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Companies about to take security seriously?

It's about time there was a law with actual teeth that makes these big companies sit up and actually take the security of our personal data seriously. GDPR does just that, no longer can a company just say "we'll risk it" when asked to spend money on network/data/physical security, the risk is now upto 4% of global revenue (including the parent company). On the flip side the security companies must think it's Christmas come early. If BA is found to be liable I hope they get a fine in the £100's of millions, I'm a firm believer in the "shoot one, scare many" approach, it's a big "if" but hopefully we'll get a detailed explanation of how they were compromised.

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Re: Companies about to take security seriously?

Unlikely that fines approaching anywhere near 4% of global; turnover will ever happen in our lifetime. Even before GDPR the ICO has always been able to fine up to half a million pounds. Their record of actually collecting it (not necessarily their fault) is very poor.

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Re: Companies about to take security seriously?

"If BA is found to be liable I hope they get a fine in the £100's of millions"

Their quick disclosure takes them out of the top tier of fines.

A more desirable outcome would be for them to have relatively little in terms of fines to be contrasted with someone who tries to cover up being hit really hard. If BA were fined heavily after a quick disclosure it would send the wrong message entirely. It would suggest that the difference in penalty between covering up and being found on the one hand and owning up on the other wasn't great. That would lead to a risk analysis that it would be worth trying to cover up to avoid any penalty as the additional cost price of failing over the certain cost of notifying would be minor.

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Re: Companies about to take security seriously?

@Joe Harrison

Any judicial or quasi-judicial body with the power to levy fines does so on a graduated basis. If they go for a maximum fine in minor cases how are they going to differentiate the more egregious cases? Or, as the saying puts it, might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

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Re: Companies about to take security seriously?

The concept of a "discount" for reporting promptly is an interesting one. Failure to report on time would be an administrative breach, inviting a fine of 2% of turnover or EUR10m. The data loss itself is a data breach, with a potentially higher penalty of 4% of turnover or EUR20m. Had BA taken too long to report, the ICO would consider a fine for the failure to report (an administrative breach, with a max of 2% of turnover or £10m) AND a fine for the breach (a data breach, with a max of 4%/EUR20m). They wouldn't be added together, though: item 3 of Article 83 states: "... the total amount of the administrative fine shall not exceed the amount specified for the gravest infringement".

Which is interesting, because unless the administrative fine was greater than the data breach fine, it'd effectively be disregarded anyway.

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Re: Companies about to take security seriously?

That would have to wait until Social Media are forced to set-up a legal entity in each jurisdiction they operate in and be subject via that entity to local regulations.

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Re: Companies about to take security seriously?

Agreed.

A fiver says that they have some internal guidance that has been extensively considered with regard to the variables upon which a fine is based. You can't just slap a maximum fine on someone to make an example of them: if another company is less naughty and gets fined less, an appeal will instantly be forthcoming from the company that got the monetary kicking.

Fines must be proportionate and dissuasive: enough to make it worth taking steps to protect yourself, but not idiotically big.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Joke

Re: Companies about to take security seriously?

Or, as the saying puts it, might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

That saying needs to be updated - These days, underage lamb related crime probably has stiffer penalties.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Companies about to take security seriously?

It'd be a lot more promising if it was MANAGEMENT about to take security seriously.

Companies don't make decisions in a vacuum, management make those decisions and if management want to personally and individually be held responsible (and reap the rewards) when things go well, surely there should be a flip side to that ?

Management don't pay penalties, companies don't pay penalties, customers, staff, etc generally end up picking up the costs.

Off with their heads.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Companies about to take security seriously?

You'd be effectively killing off limited-liability corporations, then, as one of the reasons they exist at all is to deflect risk. Otherwise, investors would never pony up.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm glad it happened to BA but not their customers as they've suffered enough.

I'll never forgive Bastard Airlines for fucking me over.

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You do realize that what thy got was the customer's details (card numbers and the like)... guess who will, eventually, get screwed?

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In the USA ...

... generally the first thing that happens is the corporate lawyers try to sue whoever finds the leak.

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Anonymous Coward

PR damage minimisation

Is it me or suddenly the coverage of a breach turns into a positive public relations exercise? The articles that I have seen either lean towards deflecting the blame (there was a red herring about "third party scripts" here in El Reg recently) or praising BA for how quickly they announced the breach never mind that, as the article says, we are obliged to do that by the GDPR.

If they want to be honest and helpful, they should cut the bullshit and publish a detailed post-mortem of how they got breached in the first place (there is no shame in getting breached per se).

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Re: PR damage minimisation

there is no shame in getting breached per se

There bloody well should be, with the sole exception of getting hit by a zero day attack that the target company couldn't mitigate against. The vast majority of breaches appear to be avoidable through rigorous application of good security practice, and that includes avoiding third party scripts and redirects unless genuinely essential.

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Re: PR damage minimisation

Nope, people get hit, life goes on. Unless and until it hits THEM directly (as in they lose all their money or something similarly drastic), they won't care about what happens to the other guy. Plus, that's why there's insurance.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: PR damage minimisation

> There bloody well should be

With due respect, do you have experience and/or qualifications in an information security role?

Being breached per se means that the opponent deployed an attack that was superior to your defences (in intensity, cunning, duration or any combination of the three). That is a different problem than whether those defences were adequate in the first place, in terms of the risk that could be reasonably expected and, as someone else says, what other mitigation measures you have for when the breach does occur (you start your planning by assuming that a breach has occurred).

And then, even if you misplanned or did not plan in the first place, a post-morted is always helpful both to you and to the industry at large, notwithstanding that legal might want to take a look before release.

Apologies if I am teaching grandma to suck eggs, but I do not understand your comment.

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Anonymous Coward

So as long as its reported in time the horse has bolted from the barnyard is fine...

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