• Vinh Nguyen

    Vinh Thanh Nguyen is currently Technical Consultant at Mimecast where he has been since November 2018. Vinh has been working in the technology industry for almost 5 years and draws on his previous experiences of startups and larger enterprises to understand and help align customer business needs with the technical solutions that Mimecast provides.  Since starting at Mimecast Vinh has adopted a key focus on the human element of security, consulting and providing product demonstrations around the additional security available to an organisation from a staff perspective.

    Prior to his role at Mimecast, Vinh worked as solution architect for cloud-based communications platform Whispir, a Melbourne-based startup in Australia.

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Cyber task force, new penalties and ransom ban considered after wave of breaches 

Bruised by a series of major breaches, the Australian government is pushing forward new tough legislation and proposing a new cyber task force. A ban on ransom payments is being considered, and penalties for breaches could soon rise from $2.2 million to $50 million or more. 

Perspective  

The data of millions of Australians has been exposed in recent weeks, with organisations including Optus and MediBank hit by an unprecedented wave of cyberattacks. Police have blamed Russian hackers for the MediBank breach, while a Sydney teenager has already pleaded guilty to using Optus data in smishing (text message) scams. But the political focus is less on individual incidents and more on future proofing Australian cybersecurity. Home affairs minister Clare O’Neil plans a hundred-strong task force that can “hack back” at criminal “scumbags”. 

The government is considering banning companies from making ransom payments to hackers, while legislation to punish serious or repeated breaches was moving through parliament at the end of November. Penalties would rise from $2.2 million to $50 million, three times the value of any benefit obtained through the misuse of information or 30 percent of a company’s adjusted turnover over the period, whatever is larger. In this climate of threats and increased regulation, difficult conversations with the board are a must if CISOs are to fulfil their duty of care


Charity donors hit in Smith Family breach 

Children’s educational charity the Smith Family has been attacked by hackers. The charity says the personal data of 80,000 people may have been accessed, including names, contact details, donation amounts and some payment information. 

Perspective  

The attack seems to have begun with an attempt to use an employee’s credentials to steal funds. That attack was unsuccessful, but personal details were exposed. Full payment card details and copies of documents such as passports or driving licences were not affected, since they are not stored by the charity, but the first and last digits of card numbers may have been stolen. 

Donors have been contacted, and the company is investigating the incident with the aid of specialists. The attack is a reminder that charities and not-for-profits are a treasure trove for unscrupulous criminals. To stay safe, not-for-profits must manage the human factor, make patching a priority and only keep the personal data they need, and that too for a limited time. 


Air New Zealand hit with credential stuffing attack 

Air New Zealand has suffered a security breach after a credential stuffing attack saw scammers use email addresses and password data from another website to hack into Air NZ accounts. Some frequent fliers were locked out of their accounts as a result. 

Perspective  

Damage from the attack seems to be limited, but it’s not the first time Air NZ has been attacked. In March, frequent flyer data was stolen from a partner airline, while in 2019 a phishing scam hit around 70,000 customers. Air NZ chief digital officer Nikhil Ravishankar stressed the importance of good security practice. “This is a common problem where people use the same email address and password for more than one online login and do not update their passwords regularly or utilise features such as multi-factor authentication,” he said.  

As threats rise, individuals as well as organisations must look to their security. Recent weeks have seen governments stress the importance of good personal security hygiene via New Zealand’s Cyber Smart Week  and Australia’s Cyber Security Awareness Month. Using unique passphrases for every account, and updating them frequently, is a crucial first step.


New South Wales pioneers mandatory breach notifications 

The New South Wales parliament has introduced a bill obliging government agencies to notify both the NSW Privacy Commissioner and impacted individuals after a breach. The bill would make NSW the first state or territory to have a mandatory notification scheme. 

Perspective  

“Every day, the people of NSW offer their personal information to government agencies,” said Attorney General Mark Speakman. “In return, the government has a responsibility to effectively and proactively protect and respect that personal information.” In the event of a breach, bodies including local councils and some universities will be required to assess the damage a breach might cause individuals whose personal data is exposed. If “serious harm” might result, notification is mandatory. If passed, the organisations will have a 12 month transition period to prepare for the new regulations.   

The bill reflects concerns over recent data breaches, and is unlikely to be the last of its kind. It arrives alongside a $315 million investment in NSW’s cyber defences, and news that the state is adding cyber education to the school curriculum


Ransomware attack on Australian Clinical Labs went unreported for months 

Australian Clinical Labs has disclosed a data breach that has exposed the data of over 100,000 people. The Quantum ransomware gang has taken responsibility for the attack and uploaded the stolen data to its Tor site in June.   

Perspective  

The breach hit ACL’s Medlab Pathology business. Alongside 128,608 names and Medicare numbers, the haul includes 28,286 credit card numbers, and 17,539 individual medical records. ACL detected unauthorised access in February, but its investigations did not yield any leads. In March the ACSC told the company that it had been the victim of a ransomware attack. After the stolen data was uploaded, ACL investigated further, and at the end of October made an announcement that “given the highly complex and unstructured nature of the data-set being investigated, it has taken the forensic analysts and experts until now to determine the individuals and the nature of their information involved”. 

Individuals affected are being offered free credit monitoring and identity theft protection, as well as the replacement of compromised documents. But the long period between the initial incident and a public announcement indicates just how long cybercriminals may have before the net closes around them. Solutions such as XDR can combine data from across your network and enable a faster response. 

Vinh Thanh Nguyen is currently Technical Consultant at Mimecast where he has been since November 2018. Vinh has been working in the technology industry for almost 5 years and draws on his previous experiences of startups and larger enterprises to understand and help align customer business needs with the technical solutions that Mimecast provides.  Since starting at Mimecast Vinh has adopted a key focus on the human element of security, consulting and providing product demonstrations around the additional security available to an organisation from a staff perspective.

Prior to his role at Mimecast, Vinh worked as solution architect for cloud-based communications platform Whispir, a Melbourne-based startup in Australia.

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