TRACE


anonymous___power_to_the_people__by_alleyismine-d64q904It’s been a chilling experience for Sony Pictures, and a little surreal for those observing. It could be one of their movies….

Bruce Schneier has some thoughts. The hacking incident has shocked many, although any of us in information security may not be particularly surprised.

After many years in information security I am continually disappointed by the lack of focus there is in securing an organisations information assets. This includes intellectual property (IP), and anything information that needs to be protected in generating IP. The focus on being ‘compliant’ and finding ways to get that tick-box without really being really serious about doing what is right, is worrying. I wrote a post in April this year that dives into this subject.

Of course if an organisation is not serious about protecting its IP, how can you expect it to protect your personal information, as employees, customers and partners? The lack of measures taken to secure employee personal information brings home the fact that when it comes to securing our personal data, and anything we generate, i.e. digital footprint, it is up to us all individually to take control. It seems that we can’t trust anyone else…

But how is this possible? Well take a look at Lequinox, they have turned the identity paradigm upside-down. See if you can get your head around this way of thinking? They are empowering the individual, each one of us is to take control over what belongs to us.  You control (and legally own) your digital identity and your digital footprint, and every identity in the world controls their own identity.  It is the Lequinox technology with its cryptographic black box of magic that makes this possible. If you understand this, you will see that in the future, potentially it is you that is in control…

Yes I know, I’m here again complaining about the Swedish law protecting personal information that has no teeth! Now it seems that there is another loophole in the law following a new ruling that enables foreign companies to extract and use PII of Swedish residents/citizens, any persons associated with a Swedish ID#. Read more in this article which is in Swedish, but I’ve done an English translation below.


In previous posts I’ve discussed the weaknesses in Swedish law pertaining to the protection of personal information. Basically there is a conflict between the PUL (Personal Data Act) and the Freedom of Expression Act; which present a loophole for companies wanted to make money from PII. Both laws have good intentions, but the latter is being abused.

 

TRANSLATION
Foreign companies can bypass Personal Data Act (PUL)
Foreign companies can get information on Swedes denied to domestic companies with reference to the Personal Data Act (PUL) . A judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court states that a Norwegian agency workers are entitled to get information about all Swedish nurses from the National Board despite the fact that the authorities first denied because it would violate the PUL . But as the law is written, it can not be denied information because PUL is not applicable abroad , reports P3 News . The ruling means that it is now free for foreign companies to request public documents from Swedish authorities and that Swedish companies can open subsidiaries abroad in order thereby to request information , says Dennis Töllborg , professor of jurisprudence.
– There is a remarkable gap in the law.

@ #HPDiscover Barcelona uncovered “The Machine”. The Machine has been re-architected bottom-up, which means all this stupid business of using different types of memory in order to optimise speed, yet offer as close as is possible given the limitations of the architecture, the stability of persistent memory, will be a thing of the past. The Machine will have the advantages of fast memory, yet the stability of persistent memory. This is just one technical rework in The Machine, there is loads more. I’m not an expert on hardware, but I understood enough to appreciate the enormity of this innovation.

But what does this mean? What they demoed is how quick it will be to find similar pictures in a big data archive containing millions of pictures. Imagine what this means from crime prevention viewpoint, imagine how this can be used to protect children against sexual predators? Imagine the speed at which biometrics will work, imagine, imagine the possibilities….

On the other side of the coin we can speculate the impact on our personal privacy. The ease and speed of shifting through millions of graphics, data, whatever, means that everything about each one of us will be available to governments, secret agencies, and criminal organisations. This includes everything you share online, your location data, your photos, all pictures of you captured on the millions of surveillance cameras worldwide. With The Machine everything that is public will be instantly available.

So what should you do? Well you need to take control of your identity, your PII (Personal Identifying Information) and your digital footprint. In order to make this possible, how identities are managed today needs to be re-architected bottom-up, exactly as what HP have done with The Machine. Existing identity management architectures are not scalable, and even with federation you are not in control, whatever the supporters of federation may claim.

The only way forward is that you control your identity, hence own your identity, and your digital footprint. You should have absolute traceability on your identity. You control, and encrypt everything you do, every digital interaction if you share is done under your conditions. This is only possible by strengthening your digital identity with the use of reference sources, so that it mirrors how your identity works in the physical world. However just as with The Machine, it is early days, yet the first step is possible…. which means that you have the chance to be one of the first to take control of what belongs to you, your identity and your digital footprint. Check the video below.

#HPDiscover 2014 was amazing! HP Invent is back! I am so excited by what I saw and experienced during this week in Barcelona. I even got the chance to shake hands with Meg Whitman 🙂

Why was I there though? After all I’m not working for HP anymore. Well apart from the fact I still love the company that has got it’s spirit back, excited by their new energy and wave of innovation, I am part of a start-up that is launching applications into the HP Helion cloud.

The ART of Compliance is about bringing legality into digital interactions. It should mirror how business processes work in the real world, legality should be preserved. In fact if you have legality in your digital interactions, then you have more than what is possible in the physical world; as increased transparency and absolute traceability is possible.

 

So information security in financial reporting is unnecessary? So you think… I guess you’re not following the HQ-Bank saga in Sweden? Well the stars of this saga are going to prison to pay for falsification of financial information. It seems that even the KPMG auditor (Johan Dyrefors) approved 2009 and 2010 accounts. Credit to KPMG that it didn’t get approved internally. Evidence of malpractice started in 2009. It seems that this was just the tip of the iceberg of accounting malpractices for HQ-Bank.

You know information security is not purely about protecting the confidentiality of financial information, it is about protecting its integrity; ensuring absolute traceability back to the originating source, which is the identity in whichever role they are acting within when financial records are submitted. The financial reports that are submitted should be digitally time-stamped and digitally signed to protect integrity.

It is XBRL that gives transparency. XBRL gives a single language for all financial information from creation through to consumption. However in order to enforce Accountability, Responsibility and Traceability (ART), i.e. quality and integrity in financial reporting, you need information security. You know those deep cryptographic magical stuff that tells you if the financial information has been tampered with.

Lars Berlöf is going to be talking about this at the Nordic IT Security Conference on 5th November, I may even keep him company on stage, for a short time 😉 Lars knows about the challenges of transparency in financial reporting and is driven to enforce traceability hence, legality in all financial reporting, in Sweden, and across the whole world!

Here is a taster of what we will be talking about……

law-legislationOr is it?  Not really, it was an id fraud just waiting to happen, so if it is no surprise than it is not embarrassing really….. except it was top Swedish profiles that had their e-leg used fraudulently. That was pretty awkward for Telia, SBAB, Avanza and the Swedish Tax Authority ….and the party poppers were out this weekend for Swedish press.

SBAB and Avanza immediately issued a statement saying that they had stopped using the Telia e-leg. However the Swedish Tax Authority are waiting to see how things develop…..

But why do I say it was an id fraud waiting to happen? The problem is pretty straightforward. All credentials pertaining to access to information that we as natural and legal persons need to access/process is organised with the information, what I call ‘information silos’, not with the natural person. An ‘information silo’ can be financial information, i.e. your money in the bank, it could be your tax returns, or it could be your health information, your children’s information held by government authorities. In fact every ‘information silo’ has your logon credentials, i.e. your so called ‘digital identity’ or as was the case in this rather embarrassing crime, your e-leg. If you were to add to this list your credentials on LinkedIn, Facebook, your store cards, and loyalty schemes… you have potentially 100s of ‘digital identities’ that are fair game to identity fraud. Although I said this wrong… you don’t have 100s of ‘digital identities’, because they don’t belong to you. You have no control over your so called ‘digital identities’ whether these are in the form of e-leg or not. Well e-leg is yours, right? No it is not, it’s not controlled by you. In this example of id fraud, your digital id is created by a third party, and they even send the secret codes for access to information through the post.

I don’t know anyone that knows exactly how many ‘digital identities’ they have, because all so called ‘digital identities’ are owned and managed by the owners of the ‘information silos’. Clearly if you trust the 100s of information owners to be doing their job right, and to care about you and your personal privacy, then I guess it’s not a problem, but I don’t. I am sure that I care more about my digital identity than anyone else out there controlling my access to their information silos.

I don’t know anyone that has complete control over their digital identity or their digital footprint. What is more is that if anything bad happened to any of these identities, you would have no idea… even if you check your bank account daily, it doesn’t matter, because this is only one of many opportunities for identity fraudsters to take over and cause temporary chaos (for just a year or two) in your, and your family’s life.

So what’s the future? What I visualise is a world whereby I own my digital identity. I control my digital identity. I have only a single digital identity that is a digital and legal representative of my natural self. The fact that I own my digital identity, all transactions pertaining to my digital self will be mine.   This means that if I have a 100 places that I conduct digital interactions, that regardless of which legal entity has been agreed to own the content of the interaction, both parties will receive details of all transactions pertaining to the digital interactions. This would give me, as the identity owner, absolute transparency, and legal traceability.

It is how it should work after all. One digital identity for each natural/legal person. It’s pretty obvious really, isan’t it?

64 thousand Swedish identities were hijacked in 2013. Population of Sweden is today around 9,5 million. This means that the crime of identity fraud impacted around 0,8 percent of the Swedish population.

“So what, that’s nothing?” You are thinking….

Nevertheless this is almost 1 in a 100 of Swedish residents who have been a victim to identity fraud in 2013 alone. Hence Sweden is not exempt from the growing trend of identity fraud globally.

However in Sweden it’s going to increase exponentially if Swedish law is not changed. What we can expect is that subsequent years will welcome an influx of fresh victims; that could be you if you are one of the 9.5 million residents or/and citizens of Sweden, your friends, or even your children.

Identity fraud in Sweden will increase exponentially if Swedish law is not changed!

identity-theftFirst a little history on how we got to where we are. Sweden is one of the few countries globally that is organized enough to have implemented a comprehensive personal identity numbering scheme. It was first introduced in 1947 and was probably the first of its kind globally that included every Swedish resident. Unfortunately, the fact that Swedish identities are organized with the use of a uniform identifier, i.e. YYMMDD-xxxx (YYMMDD = date of birth) makes their personal id much more vulnerable to hacking and fraud than a more random generated id. It is easy for an identity fraudster to work out a Swedish identity number using some simple data mining techniques.

For those of you that want a quick summary of how the Swedish ID number is created… here we go..

1. The personal identity number consists of 10 digits and a hyphen.
2. The first six correspond to the person’s birthday, in YYMMDD form.
3. They are followed by a hyphen.
4. The seventh through ninth are a serial number.
5. An odd ninth number is assigned to males, and an even ninth number is assigned to females.
7. The tenth digit is a checksum which was introduced in 1967 when the system was computerised.

Up to 1990, the seventh and eighth digits were correlated with the county where the bearer of the number was born or (if born before 1947) where he/she had been living, according to tax records, on January 1, 1947, with a special code (usually 9 as 7th digit) for immigrants.

To get the last 4 digits, easiest is to call the Swedish Tax Authority and ask, they are very helpful, since the personal identity number is public information

But what does it really mean to have your identity stolen, or hijacked as more often referred to in Swedish popular press? So here is how a Swedish identity could be stolen starting with a name to find the personal id number:

  1. Google the name of the victim, from here the fraudster will find date of birth (ratsit.sebirthdays.se), home address on a cute map, and other information (hitta.se);
  2. To get the last 4 digits the fraudster can ring up the Swedish Tax Authority direct and ask them, it is after all public information, and they are very helpful.
  3. Now the identity thief can go online and order a fraudulent ID card and/or a fake passport using the stolen personal id number. Hence since the personal number is a vital specific identification number to identify an individual is correct but the photo on the ID card or passport is that of the fraudster.
  4. He/she is ready to go on a spending spree at the victim’s expense! If they have no access to the victim’s credit/debit card, they could buy electronic goods on credit with a small down payment (avbetalning). The victim, get to foot the rest of the bill.
  5. A shop assistant when checking the id card, would feel that the details are correct and process the transaction.

And this is just the beginning of the nightmare for the victim. The fraudster can take out additional loans in their name, buy a car, a house, and default on payments in their name. The victim will be blacklisted by credit companies. Cleaning up this mess will not be easy. It will take a lot of energy and time to clear their name. The victim can forget about trying to get a loan or any type of credit at this time.

I guess after all this excitement that the victim will want to remove their personal information from the public domain? Sorry but there is more bad news. It’s quite impossible! Swedish residents have no legal right to protect their personal identifying information in Sweden. In fact credit reporting agencies have permission from the Data Inspectorate (Datainspektionen) to publish your personal information. They get something called an utgivningsbevis that gives them exemption from Personalupplysningslagen (PuL), that costs a couple of thousand Swedish kronor. On the date of this publication there were 913 companies that have been granted an utgivningsbevis. So in Sweden the Personal Identifying Information (PII) of data subjects is public information. Although the data subjects do have some say over the integrity of PII that is published, this is driven by the Kreditupplysningslagen. The Credit Information Act (Kreditupplysningslagen) are required to make changes in their database to correct faults, but the data subjects have no right to be omitted from the register unless they have a ‘protected identity’. Hence all residents in Sweden who are over the age of 16 are included and public.

All of this is despite the Personal Data Law (PuL) that is here to protect personal information of Swedish residents and citizens. In fact in this context the PuL is impotent. The Swedish codification of the European Union Directive on Data Protection just does not work. The source of the problem is that the Personal Data Act (PuL) does not apply if its application is in contrary to the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression (1991).

So what this means is that the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression is being abused by companies making money from the identities of Swedish subjects. It is a Mad Hatters Party for 931 companies abusing this right at the cost of Swedish citizens/residents!

As a Swedish citizen, I have nothing against companies making money from identities so long as:

  1. I’ve given active consent to this;
  2. I have the choice to have it removed;
  3. and if I have permitted my personal information to be used commercially, I should also be a beneficiary from sharing my personal information.

To summarise. If you are a Swedish citizen/resident your personal information is public information and is being exploited commercially. This exploitation makes you vulnerable to identity theft. You have no control over who publishes your personal information.

It is about time this problem was fixed don’t you think?

Further reading

http://www.datainspektionen.se/press/nyheter/2014/datainspektionen-kan-inte-ingripa-mot-sajt-som-hanger-ut-domda/

http://www.riksdagen.se/en/How-the-Riksdag-works/Democracy/The-Constitution/The-Fundamental-Law-on-Freedom-of-Expression/

http://www.radioochtv.se/en/Licensing/Internet/

http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt/404038?programid=2778&playchannel=132

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