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An Overview of Australian Red Cross Data Breach

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Methodology
  3. Threats of a data breach
    CIA triad and its applications
    Legal and ethical issues with the breach
    Types of information are breached
    Changes to handling of information
  4. OAIC respond
  5. Conclusion


In today’s world, every people and organization are connected to each other to communicate and exchange data via the internet. Without a question, the internet has made our lives supportive and capable. In any case, the introduction of the information to cyber-attacks has extended exponentially with the improvement inside the internet world. Other than, its common to hear news a bit recent cyber-attack with respect to breach anonymous information of big organizations, this exasperating circumstance highlights the foremost extraordinary need to fortify existing controls against these breaches.

On 5th September 2016, a database containing statistics regarding 550,000 potential blood donors who had entered their information into the internet site became copied right into a backup file which became stored to a public-facing net server. That internet server had directory listing enabled (so the reality that it emerges as an SQL database was discoverable). The backup data seems as created and stored through a way of Precedent Communications Pty Ltd, the IT service for the Red Cross, so it may ‘check any new capability with real information’ and the server becomes part of the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) environment(Siganto, 2017 ).

An unspecified individual found the data through scanning files listings and told what he discovered to Troy Hunt, a famous Australian information security identity, on 25 October 2016, some 50 days after it had been first disclosed onto the server. The unspecified person provided Troy with information about Troy and his wife, each of whom has been donors to showcase his bona fides. Troy determined to notify AUSCERT who then talked to the Blood Service (who had been an existing consumer) and continued to help them with their on-going reaction (Siganto, 2017 ).

At the time of the incident, according to the report, records entered by using viable donors remained on the back-end of the Donate Blood website, as nicely as being transmitted to the Blood Service. The manufacturing environment of the website used to be hosted for Precedent by Amazon Web Services. Non-production environments, along with the website’s User Acceptance Testing (UAT) surroundings have been hosted and managed via Precedent directly. Those UAT surroundings held a reproduction of the website, along with purchaser information which used to be ‘refreshed’ on a month-to-month basis. It contained a reproduction of all statistics entered the manufacturing version of the Donate Blood website. The actual UAT surroundings were protected via Precedent through a wide variety of mechanisms, according to the report. However, parts of the network server on which the UAT environment was once located have been publicly accessible, the file into Precedent’s involvement in the breach stated(Spencer, 2017a).


This document will elaborate on how well implemented manipulate should have altered the outcome of the incident. the method applied to assemble the case observe evaluation may be mentioned furthermore, the data security precept of Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability (CIA) could be mentioned and applied in this context. furthermore, there could be an in-depth look at the threats and vulnerabilities that allowed the attack to transpire and in the long run succeed. in addition, the protection mechanisms in an area to shield in opposition to the threats may be examined. furthermore, goals approach after the breach can be evaluated after the breach. ultimately, considerable instructions learned from the incident could be mentioned and complete analysis can be summarized, and the end could be provided.

Threats of a data breach

The threats of data breach were directly impacting the public or the donors who were giving blood for long times. Their personal information exposed which if goes in wrong hand can be misused in many aspects of security. These days personal information of a person is directly associated with multiple organization and services. In this situation’s attacker can get access to those service with that disclosed information.

CIA triad and its applications

The CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability) triad of information protection is a data protection benchmark model used to evaluate the statistics protection of a corporation. The CIA triad of information security implements safety using 3 key factors associated with information systems which encompass confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Here, confidentiality means data or information is only accessed by the authorized person. Integrity refers to keeping the data in its original form without changing or altering it. And availability means the data should available anytime when necessary without any hassle by the authentic user(Gibson, 2011). In this data breach case of Red cross, the confidentiality has been compromised. Confidential data of the blood donors like name, email, sex, blood group, birthdate, and address are exposed. Along with this, there are answers to some questions which are very personal to the users like if they are taking any antibiotic or if they have been involved in risky sexual behavior in the last six months.

These are very critical information which should not be exposed. This might affect the users or donor’s personal life significantly. Although the data was exposed for a while, there are no proven facts that they have been altered by any means. So, the integrity of the data might have remained intact. Also, there was no issue regarding the availability of the data for the organization as the data exposed was a dump file.

Legal and ethical issues with the breach

The information breach was caused by human blunders at the part of a Precedent worker. This took place without the authorization or direct involvement of the Blood service and become outside the scope of Precedent’s contractual responsibilities to the Blood provider. The Blood carrier didn’t reveal the records document, inside which means breaching of APP 6.

Although the root cause of the information breach was an unseen human mistake on the part of a Precedent worker. However, the mistake was made within the individual’s duties, and as such the information breach was a ‘disclosure’ inside the meaning of Australian Privacy Principle APP-6.

Precedent breached the Privacy Act in respect of APP 6 and APP 11 through:

  • disclosing the non-public records of individuals who had made an appointment at the Donate Blood website, in breach of APP 6
  • failing to take affordable steps to correctly mitigate towards the threat of a data breach, and to guard the non-public facts it held from unauthorized disclosure, in contravention of APP 11.1(commissioner, 2017).

Types of information are breached

The list of the data attributes collected from the donors was disclosed in the breach. There was a list of all the donors and information around them. Some of them are:

  • First and last name
  • Gender
  • Birthdate
  • Blood group
  • If they have previously donated
  • Type of donation
  • Address
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • And some donor eligible questions

One point of precise sensitivity is the collection of donor eligibility answers. Each donor is requested questions together with whether or no longer they may be on antibiotics, if they’re below or overweight and if they’ve had any current surgical approaches, inside the remaining twelve months, have engaged in at-risk sexual behavior or not, etc. may be a deeply personal that could be exceptionally touchy if the solution is within the affirmative(Hunt, 2016).

Changes to handling of information

After the records breach, the Blood carrier performed an overview of its facts managing practices and installed place modifications to decorate the one’s practices. those steps protected:

  • demolishing all ancient information from the Donate Blood internet site database
  • erasing the private records accumulated via the website every fortnight
  • expanding and imposing a 3rd party management policy and 3rd party management standard operating procedure to reveal 3rd party companies’ compliance with appropriate privacy and data safety practices and procedures.
  • upgrading its template agreement terms for the purchase of services and products to encompass comprehensive facts security and privacy requirement.
  • altering its procurement technique so that a PIA is completed prior to negotiation of any large settlement to ensure that privateness and information sharing are considered, and appropriate protections are in place.
  • Speeding and increasing an overview of its information and technology facilities
  • engaging outside consultants to check its incident control response and information security governance, strategies, and structures, with the vision of identifying areas of development and techniques to implement these advancements. (commissioner, 2017).
  • restricting the personal data collected through the Donate Blood internet site as all eligibility questions are now grouped at the bottom of the questionnaire and there’s an assertion that a person can be referred to the contact center must they reply ‘yes’ to any of

the grouped questions. The most information acquired through the website is called, donor

id variety, date of birth, address, phone number, email address, and gender(commissioner, 2017).

OAIC respond

According to OAIC, Precedent breached the Privacy Act in respect of APP 6 and APP 11 – which requires an APP body to take active measures to make certain the safety of personal data it holds through disclosing the private information of people that had made an appointment on the Donate Blood website, and for failing to take reasonable steps to appropriately mitigate towards the risk of a data breach.

On the identical time, the OAIC determined that the data breach occurred without the authorization or direct involvement of the Blood carrier and changed beyond the scope of Precedent’s contractual responsibilities to the Blood provider. The OAIC found that the Blood carrier had breached APP 11, ‘in respect of the information on the Donate Blood website by retaining the information indefinitely, and by not having appropriate measures in place to protect information concurrently held by third-party contractors’. The steps Blood carrier had in place to defend private information at the time of the breach have been, for the maximum part, good enough.

Regardless, the Australian information and privateness Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, has stated that people can have trust and confidence in the Australian Red Blood service’s dedication to the security of their non-public facts, following his investigation. He also said, “data breaches can still appear inside the established organizations – and I think Australians may be assured by using how the Red Cross Blood service responded to this event,’ Pilgrim said. ‘They had been sincere with the public, upfront with my workplace, and have taken complete obligation at each step of this process(Spencer, 2017b).’


By performing quick, the red cross substantially decreased the potential harm to it from the breach. From this case, every big and small company who keeps a record of confidential information should be aware of the potential data breach or loop in the system before it is disclosed. They should periodically upgrade the system. The sensitive information should be identified and secured with the latest security tools and techniques. The effective information security plan should be developed. The policies and procedures regarding accessing information should be upgraded periodically to keep it strong and secure. Risk assessment of the property and processes need to be carried out frequently to correctly give each asset suitable degree of consideration in keeping with its value.

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