Feeds

Man loses fight against firm that suffered data breach

Harm? What harm?

Seven Steps to Software Security

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. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.