Capital One Data Breach – Interview of Data Privacy & eDiscovery expert on the fallout
Cyber Security & Computer Forensics Expert Lee Neubecker interviews Data Privacy Expert Debbie Reynolds on the fallout from the recently disclosed Capital One Data Breach that occurred following alleged hacking of the company’s data stored in the cloud. Issues discussed include an assessment of how the CEO of Capital One managed the crisis, pending charges filed against Paige Thompson and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in the government’s complaint filed earlier this week.
Transcript of video follows
Lee Neubecker: Hi, I’m here today with Debbie Reynolds from Debbie Reynolds Consulting and we’re going to be talking today about the recent news involving the Capital One Data Breach Thank you for being on the show Debbie.
Debbie Reynolds: Thank you for inviting me. It’s such a thrill, you’re such a joy to be around to talk to so it’s great to do this
Lee Neubecker: Well it’s great to have you here. So, trial’s expected this Thursday in the case. Can you tell everyone a little bit about what happened this week?
Debbie Reynolds: So this week is in the news that Capital One had a data breach. There was a woman who used to be, I believe she’s worked Amazon if I’m not mistaken, who had found a vulnerability in Capital One’s cloud system, and was able to obtain private or digital information on over a hundred billion customers or potential customers for Capital One so as far as I can tell they say that she may have gathered social security numbers and other private information about individuals who had even applied, who may not even be customers of Capital One, who have even applied for a Capital One credit card back as far as 2005.
Lee Neubecker: Yep.
Debbie Reynolds: So the vulnerability that was discovered and part of the reason why it was discovered was because she had apparently bragged about it on Twitter and she used her real name and so they were able to pull this stuff together. And I think the SWAT team went to her house?
Lee Neubecker: Yeah, so she was using the IP, iPredator, which is supposed to anonymize and protect you. When she was using that she created her online GitHub accounts and other accounts and it had that IP, the iPredator IP address range in her profile linked to her name. So she wasn’t really being smart about it.
Debbie Reynolds: No. So yeah, I think that she was bragging about what she had, I guess she was proud of what she had done and apparently someone who had seen something she had post on some forum contacted Capital One. This wasn’t a breach in which Capital One found out about; someone from the outside said, “Hey, this girl says that she has your data” and now it’s a really big thing.
Lee Neubecker: Yeah so now she’s charged with a computer fraud and abuse act which I think she’ll probably end up …
Debbie Reynolds: Yeah.
Lee Neubecker: Do you think she’ll get a plea?
Debbie Reynolds: She’s probably going to go to the slammer. It seems like especially when the SWAT team showed up at her house, they’re definitely going to make an example out of her with this. It’s pretty bad because I think right now the reports and what’s coming out from Capital One are different than what she said or what other people said they have. Because at one point they were saying that Capital One in their statement said that certain people’s social security numbers weren’t breached but then we know that they did get people’s social security numbers.
Lee Neubecker: It was mostly Canadian social security numbers, around a million–
Debbie Reynolds: Right.
Lee Neubecker: And then I think it was somewhere around 100,000 or so U.S. citizens.
Debbie Reynolds: Right, exactly.
Lee Neubecker: So it doesn’t necessarily impact the entirety of U.S. customers, but it still is–
Debbie Reynolds: It doesn’t, it doesn’t make you feel good. Yeah so basically over a hundred million people were touched in some way, shape or form. Even though not everyone’s personal data was taken to the same extent as everyone else, but I think this incident illustrates for us a couple of different things. First of all, they were saying that they had credit card information or information on people who had applied for credit cards going back as far as 2005. I’m not sure if they can make a justification for why they even had some of that stuff.
Debbie Reynolds: It’s first place. Especially if and I wonder what rights someone would have if they weren’t actually didn’t translate to being a customer of Capital One. The law’s kind of murky about how they should do that. I guess that’s the same issue with Equifax where not everyone who was touched by Equifax are customers of Equifax, they just happened to have their data.
Lee Neubecker: What would, how would you have advised Capital One had you gotten in there before the data breach?
Lee Neubecker: You think you might have been able to–
Debbie Reynolds: Well, you know–
Lee Neubecker: Get them in a better situation?
Debbie Reynolds: I think a lot of corporations, my view is that a lot of corporations have this mindset or business has this mindset of does it work? Does the computer work? Can I do the thing I need to do on a computer? The question that they’re not asking is is it secure? So a lot of them have a blind spot in terms of securing things because as long as it doesn’t impact their ability to work, they don’t really care how it works. So now companies have to ask how does it work? Is it secure? A lot of companies have these issues where they’re moving from internal infrastructure to the cloud and we know that the cloud infrastructure would typically be more secure quote unquote than someone’s on premise infrastructure but that all depends on how it was configured. The vulnerability that this woman was able to exploit in Capital One had to do with how the permissions and things were configured on a cloud infrastructure.
Lee Neubecker: And she had worked in that environment.
Debbie Reynolds: Right. So she had a little bit of extra insight–
Debbie Reynolds: Exactly.
Lee Neubecker: In this process.
Debbie Reynolds: Exactly. But I don’t know if you probably run into the same thing where you’re having clients that have cloud issues and they may feel more secure in themselves. Okay, we think our native is more safe than the cloud, not to say that the cloud is not safe, but if we have someone who doesn’t know how to fill those gaps and stop those vulnerabilities, it could be a huge problem.
Lee Neubecker: What do you think of the CEO’s response from Capital One?
Debbie Reynolds: I saw CEO’s response. I don’t know, someone needs to do a series about this where you compare all the response letters from these data breaches or whatever.
Lee Neubecker: That’s a great idea.
Debbie Reynolds: Not a bad response at all. I think the danger though is there may be an issue with consumer confidence obviously because no one wants their data breached, but if the things that are being said by the CEO or other leadership it becomes evident that it’s different than what actually happened, that’s going to be a problem.
Lee Neubecker: Yeah, cool.
Debbie Reynolds: I think rushing, the desire is to rush. To put out as much information as you possibly can but already the news reports are contradicting what the company is saying about what was actually breached.
Lee Neubecker: Well the complaint is available, I’ll post that on my website as well. I read the complaint and there’s a lot of detail in there and you’re right, in the news story they’re talking about Amazon cloud, they talk about a company that presumably is a subsidiary of Amazon inside the complaint.
Debbie Reynolds: Right.
Lee Neubecker: But they didn’t specifically mention Amazon in the complaint.
Debbie Reynolds: No, no so it’s going to be customers when they feel like they’ve had a data breach they definitely want, you know there’s attention that has to happen where the company wants to be as forthright and forthcoming as possible about what’s happened, but the facts may still be rolling out.
Lee Neubecker: Yeah.
Debbie Reynolds: The drip, drip, drip of it all may be tough I think.
Lee Neubecker: But I thought at least it was good that they public acknowledged it. It didn’t take forever to acknowledge it.
Debbie Reynolds: Oh, right exactly.
Lee Neubecker: And apologize, I mean–
Debbie Reynolds: Oh, absolutely. It does goes a long way–
Lee Neubecker: They just did that so I applaud them for not–
Debbie Reynolds: Absolutely.
Lee Neubecker: Sitting on it like Equifax.
Debbie Reynolds: Right. They didn’t say, “Well I’m sorry that you were hurt or you felt hurt,” or something where it’s like oh yeah, you know there is harm there so you might as well acknowledge it and try to at least be forthright about what you know and we know it.
Lee Neubecker: And from what I read too, not all of the data, some of the data was tokenized but there were birth dates, there were some socials. Debbie Reynolds: Right.
Lee Neubecker: And some other information that certainly if that were you or me, well we’re kind of becoming used to this all the time. It’s sad, but.
Debbie Reynolds: Right, well I mean and what we’re seeing, what I’m seeing, what companies are trying to argue in the U.S. having to do with data privacy is if you put, let’s say you’re on Facebook and you say, “Hey, today’s my birthday!” You know so if Lee puts his birthday on Facebook, is Lee’s birthday private? So let’s say you’re a Capital One customer, they could argue you know your birthday is not private because you put it on Facebook. That’s going to be an interesting theme.
Lee Neubecker: Well thanks so much for being on the show today.
Debbie Reynolds: It was fantastic, thank you.