The Australian government published a de-identified open health data set in the past, which contained the patient data of a subset of the Australian population. – The de-identification process involved not just stripping direct identifiers, but also adding some inaccuracies to the data set. However, the data set was still at the person-level.
Researchers have been able to successfully re-identify some patients.
The U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office has fined Carphone Warehouse 400,000 GBP after a security vulnerability left one of its computer systems compromised in a 2015 cyberattack. In one of the ICO’s largest fines issued to date, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said,
“A company as large, well-resourced, and established as Carphone Warehouse, should have been actively assessing its data security systems, and ensuring systems were robust and not vulnerable to such attacks.”
The investigation revealed attackers gained access via an outdated WordPress software login, leading Denham to call the systemic failures “rudimentary, commonplace measures.”
In a blogpost for the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office, Nigel Houlden, head of technology policy, wrote about the impact serious security flaws will have for data controllers.
Drawing upon Google’s Project Zero blog post detailing the security flaws posed by Meltdown and Spectre, Houlden said the ICO “strongly recommend[s] that organisations determine which of their systems are vulnerable, and test and apply the patches as a matter of urgency.
Failure to patch known vulnerabilities is a factor that the ICO takes into account when determining whether a breach of the seventh principle of the Data Protection Act is serious enough to warrant a civil monetary penalty.”
In the post, Houlden said implementing a privacy-by-design approach would help mitigate potential attacks.