Hackers steal data from UK Police server

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Normally, police are the investigating authority but Gwent County Police in the United Kingdom is in hot water and being investigated for not informing that some reports have been stolen by hackers.

It seems that hackers stole hundreds of reports using security vulnerability in an online tool used by the police.

police station

According to information security training researchers, Gwent Police used an online tool allowing the public to file reports against crimes or other incidents to them but little did they know a critical security flaw existed in the tool that led hackers to steal confidential reports filed by 450 people in the last two years.

Authorities removed the online tool from the server after identifying the breach, but they did not inform the victims, according to report. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has taken strict notice and currently investigating the incident.

As per investigation, the information security training analysts also found out that the online tool used by the public to file reports was developed by force’s digital development team and considered to be unique to the force.

On the other hand, Gwent Police spokesperson did not confirm if the breach took place. “There has been no other form of communication (complaints or any malicious activity on our security system). It was concluded that there was a high probability no data had been accessed and no risk to any individuals,” said the spokesperson.

In an email conversation, Jan van Vliet, VP and GM, EMEA at Digital Guardian said that: “Public and private organizations alike have a duty of care, not to mention legal obligation, to protect data. By failing to discover the security vulnerabilities of their online tool and appearing to disregard security best practices, Gwent Police has acted negligently.”

“If GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation) was already in enforcement, the potential repercussions for Gwent Police could be far greater as it appears that it was in violation of two requirements of the regulation. First, under the GPDR, companies are required to use appropriate measures to protect all personal data. ”Second, companies are obliged to report suspected incidents to the authorities within 72 hours, which Gwent doesnt do.”

“The incident also reminds us of the dangers of not notifying the affected parties. Gwent Police has failed to notify victims of the potential breach, putting those affected at further risk. If personal details got into the wrong hands, hackers could have targeted victims through phishing and social engineering attacks” in this case the victims would have had no reason to believe anything was suspicious, information security professional told.

The information security training community has been working on tools to overcome the habit in which companies do not inform victims about data breaches. In December, University of California San Diego (UCSD) developed “Tripwire Tool,” a prototype tool that would identify if websites have been compromised and suffered data breaches.

In the same way, Mozilla announced its joining hands with HaveIBeenPwned.com (HIBP), a popular data breach notification website to send an in-browser alert to Firefox browser users whether the website they are visiting was previously hacked and if their login credentials have been involved in a data breach.