Canada Pfizer stores patient data unprotected in the cloud

15:15  22 october  2020
15:15  22 october  2020 Source:   zdnet.de

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Datenschutz in der Cloud (Bild: Shutterstock) © DEFAULT_CREDIT Data protection in the cloud (Image: Shutterstock) The security provider vpnMentor discovers data from Pfizer customers in the Google Cloud. These are conversations with Pfizer's customer support software. In addition to information on medications, names and addresses are also freely accessible on the Internet - for weeks.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer apparently inadvertently stored patient data in an unsecured cloud storage device. The confidential information was discovered by researchers from the security provider vpnMentor. Hundreds of conversations were freely accessible between Pfizer's automated customer support software and users taking the company's prescription drugs for the treatment of cancer, epilepsy, anxiety disorders and erectile dysfunction.

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The data was stored in the Google Cloud. In addition to confidential medical data, the researchers also found names, addresses and email addresses of patients.

"Hackers could easily outsmart the victims by acting as Pfizer's customer care department and referring to the conversations taking place in the logs," the researchers told Siliconangle . “For example, a lot of people asked about new recipes and other questions. Such circumstances offer cybercriminals a great opportunity to impersonate Pfizer and request card details. ”

It is also possible to use the data for attacks with malware or ransomware. Together with other data from those affected, the researchers also speculated about crimes such as identity theft.

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According to the report, it took Pfizer several weeks to secure the data against unauthorized access. The researchers contacted the company twice in July. Another attempt on September 22nd ultimately led to Pfizer cutting access to the data on September 23rd. An official statement or even confirmation of the security incident is still pending.

“What the latest security breach at Pfizer shows us is that it is extremely difficult for even the largest companies in the world to back up their data hourly, daily, and weekly. It doesn't matter whether an internal or external error caused this data breach, as the digital footprint for companies is growing so rapidly that errors occur and data is exposed, ”commented Sam Curry, Chief Security Officer, Cybereason. “In this case, Pfizer cannot play the victim card as there are certainly no customers interested in hearing excuses. What they want is transparency and the guarantee that the company will continue to ensure that privacy is their top priority. ”

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Tim Mackay, Principal Security Evangelist at Synopsis, does not make a connection with the COVID-19 pandemic out. “With companies struggling to keep their costs under control with lower revenues due to the pandemic, it is normal that they look to options like cloud hosted storage. Properly backing up this storage should be a priority, but incidents have been reported where cloud storage buckets and databases were not properly backed up. Each cloud provider offers APIs that can be used to automate the configuration of their cloud storage offerings. Audit logging is also available to monitor unexpected usage patterns such as successful third-party access attempts. ”

This is not the first security incident at Pfizer, according to Siliconangle. Three similar incidents are said to have occurred in 2007. In 2019, an employee is said to have forgotten a backup hard drive in a box that was finally disposed of.

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