Morning Security Brief: DHS To Create License Plate Database, Personal Healthcare Information at Risk, and More
DHS plans to build a national database that stores information from license-plate readers that scan every car that traverses their path; the Wall Street Journal reports that healthcare information could be at risk through a file-sharing site used by hackers, and leaked documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show an American law firm was under surveillance by the agency.
► U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is planning to build a national database that stores information gathered by license plate-readers. According to a solicitation from the agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, the license-plate readers would scan any vehicle that crosses their paths, and that this technology would help apprehend “absconders and criminal aliens.” The solicitation also says it would reduce the number of man hours spent surveilling and enhance safety for law enforcement officers. According to an article in the Washington Post, privacy advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union have reservations about such devices, which they say are used to “collect vast amounts of data on innocent individuals and could be used for abusive tracking and targeting.”
► The Wall Street Journal reports that computer security researchers have discovered documents on a Web site used by hackers that could allow for attackers to “easily obtain electronic medical records and payment information from health-care providers.” According to the article, networks could be easily breached with information that is obtained by hackers, which they then dump on the file-sharing site 4share.com. WSJ reported being able to easily find documents from three New York state nursing homes on the site, one of which included firewall and network switch information. The site 4share.com did not respond for comment. The article points out that medical records are valuable on the black market, selling for around $60 each (compared to credit card information that goes for $20), and that the potential profit from Medicare and prescription fraud make personal healthcare information a valuable target.
► A report in the New York Times reveals that leaked documents by rogue National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden show an American law firm was under surveillance while representing a “foreign government in trade disputes with the United States.” The revelation raises questions about client-attorney privilege and privacy. But, according to the article, “Most attorney-client conversations do not get special protections under American law from NSA eavesdropping. Amid growing concerns about surveillance and hacking, the American Bar Association in 2012 revised its ethics rules to explicitly require lawyers to 'make reasonable efforts' to protect confidential information from unauthorized disclosure to outsiders."