Feeds

Man loses fight against firm that suffered data breach

Harm? What harm?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A Missouri man has lost his legal battle against an online prescription processor that suffered a security breach that exposed highly sensitive subscriber information.

John Amburgy alleged that Express Scripts was negligent because it failed to adequately safeguard customer data, including names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and prescription drug histories. He argued that the breach in October 2008 that exposed an unknown number of subscribers' details put him at risk of identity theft for which he was entitled to compensation.

A federal judge late last month disagreed. For the case to go forward, he said, Amburgy had to show his alleged injury was beyond mere possibility.

"In short, plaintiff does not claim that his personal information has in fact been stolen and/or his identity compromised," US Magistrate Judge Frederick R. Buckles wrote in a decision dismissing the case. "Rather, plaintiff surmises that, as a result of the security breach, he faces an increased risk of identity theft at an unknown point in the future."

In November 2008, the company offered a $1m reward for information leading to the conviction of the group that targeted it in a cyber-extortion scam. The group provided data that in some cases included prescription information for 75 users and claimed to have data for millions more. The blackmailers threatened to make the records public unless the company paid a ransom.

Express Scripts offered free credit monitoring services, but only to users who could prove they suffered identity theft as a result of the breach.

The judge rejected Amburgy's argument that the breach put him at risk for identity theft for which he needed to spend considerable time and money to reduce. The judge also pointed out that Amburgy wasn't entitled to timely notification of the breach because Missouri had no laws mandating such disclosures.

Amburgy's lack of standing is worth remembering the next time a bank or pharmacy tries to convince you life would be easier if you moved your business online. As things stand now, a patchwork of inconsistent and often toothless laws often provides generous loopholes to companies that expose customer data.

Federal legislation that would require companies that store sensitive personal information to establish a strict data-privacy regimen has recently moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said it's unclear if it will ever make it to the floor for a vote.

"We think it's a pretty good bill, and it will fill the gaps in the states where there currently isn't security breach notification" requirements, he said. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.