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Australian Gov't Loses Privacy Alert Subscription Information In the Mail

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the this-is-a-data-breach dept.

Australia 33

First time accepted submitter darinfp writes "As an Australian, I'd like to announce a new definition of the word 'Irony.' A government contractor put a list of users and details in the mail and it was lost. The list contained users subscribed to the government's privacy breach alert system."

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33 comments

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Let's get it started (4, Funny)

ExploHD (888637) | more than 2 years ago | (#40580711)

Let's start with the debate if this is irony or not. GO!

Re:Let's get it started (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40580891)

Let me guess, you're American...

Re:Let's get it started (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40581469)

Let me guess, you're American...

To be fair, we Americans have an understanding of irony that is limited to the situations included in the Alanis Morissette song. If some of the people on the list that was lost were recent lotto winners and plane crash victims, or had they recently quick smoking, or had their wedding been rained upon then we might consider it irony, but only if we've heard the song recently enough to remember it.

Re:Let's get it started (3, Insightful)

quantaman (517394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40580939)

I'd say it's a pretty good example of irony, from wikipedia "A situation is often said to be ironic (situational irony) if the actions taken have an effect exactly opposite from what was intended [wikipedia.org] ".

People were concerned about their privacy so they subscribed to a breach notification list, instead they had their privacy potentially violated as a result of the list that was supposed to notify them.

I suppose a better irony would be if they were subscribers to some sort of breach avoidance system but it's still a pretty ironic situation.

Australia is in the antipodes (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40580719)

The antipodes is a strange region of the Earth where everything is opposite: up is down, left is right, day is night, and most alarmingly, the water flushes down the toilet in the wrong direction. For this reason, you need to be very careful when trying to understand what an Australian is saying. Don't worry about people from New Zealand, they only talk to sheep.

So first:

"As an Australian, I'd like to announce a new definition of the 'Irony.'"

What this means is that we have a new definition of common sense. However, I am a little confused, because the person says "As an Australian." Australians usually indicate they are Australian by saying "I am not Australian."

Second:

"A government contractor put a list of users and details in the mail and it was lost. The list contained users subscribed to the government's privacy breach alert system."

Now, here in the Northern Hemisphere, this doesn't make any sense. But again, being as this happened in the antipodes, this is just common practical policy.

So this is a bit of a nonstory here. Which I am saying in the Northern Hemisphere sense, and not in the antipodean sense, where calling something a nonstory would indicate that this is really a notable story.

Re:Australia is in the antipodes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40581055)

I got the first guy's point. What is yours? Or don't you use logic in the northern hemisphere? No that doesn't make sense the Greeks came up with the concept. Perhaps you're a troll? Oh, yes that makes sense, except that trolls try to be understood. I got it now, you are a stupid troll!

Re:Australia is in the antipodes (2)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#40581265)

As an Australian, I'd say he's just drunk because most of his posts are worth reading :)
Anyway it's what happens with these silly lists. Our "do not call" list ended up being a contact list for a thinly disguised marketing scheme. That's what happens with opt out systems, the people on the list because they don't want to be bothered are the ones that end up being bothered by fools that think they are too important to listen to anyone telling them to go away.

Re:Australia is in the antipodes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40581343)

and most alarmingly, the water flushes down the toilet in the wrong direction. For this reason, you need to be very careful when trying to understand what an Australian is saying.

Unless your toilet is the size of a Cyclone, that's not the slightest bit true.
What is true is that Australian sundials go in the wrong direction, and that IS most alarming. Remember that for next time.

Captcha: Tornado.

Re:Australia is in the antipodes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40581799)

Don't forget the drop bears.

Re:Australia is in the antipodes (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40581475)

What this means is that we have a new definition of common sense. However, I am a little confused, because the person says "As an Australian." Australians usually indicate they are Australian by saying "I am not Australian."

So you're saying his "As an Australian" comment was ironic when compared to the traditional response? <Vinne Barbarino>I'm so confused.</Vinne Barbarino>

Re:Australia is in the antipodes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40585209)

What this means is that we have a new definition of common sense. However, I am a little confused, because the person says "As an Australian." Australians usually indicate they are Australian by saying "I am not Australian."

Its just a simple Epimenides paradox.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epimenides_paradox [wikipedia.org]

Re:Australia is in the antipodes (1)

HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) | more than 2 years ago | (#40588179)

Pedantic note: in Australia we have a different flushing mechanism than in the US, so the water in our toilets circles neither clockwise nor counter-clockwise.

Re:Australia is in the antipodes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40600219)

The water gets stuck?

Actually the irony is ... (3, Informative)

Wild Wizard (309461) | more than 2 years ago | (#40580751)

Actually the irony is that the contractor is in fact AusCERT [auscert.org.au] who claim to be :-

AusCERT operates within a worldwide network of information security experts to provide computer incident prevention, response and mitigation strategies for members and assistance to affected parties in Australia.

Re:Actually the irony is ... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40580817)

Can we make circles of irony? Or would it just collapse in on itself.

Re:Actually the irony is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40581073)

Ir2 and Ir3 are stable, but Ir4 quickly breaks down to Ir3 + redundancy. Ir5 on the other hand is highly volatile and prone to dangerous emissions of rage. For higher degrees, you should probably stick to the stable ScIr4, but be cautious as on certain temperatures, it interacts with moderatium and banahamarium to form MdSc+Ir4 or BhSc+Ir4 (which breaks down as described above).

Re:Actually the irony is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40581501)

Actually the irony is that the contractor is in fact AusCERT [auscert.org.au] who claim to be :-

AusCERT operates within a worldwide network of information security experts to provide computer incident prevention, response and mitigation strategies for members and assistance to affected parties in Australia.

It may not be a computer incident, lol.

Australia - World leader in half assery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40580755)

Seriously, no-one beats us for doing shit half assed.

Pave one side of the road, leave the other side "she'll be right"

Install a bus shelter on one side of the road complete with solar allumination, leave the other side as a 1x1m cement slab... or a dirt patch "She'll be right"

Re:Australia - World leader in half assery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40580773)

Seriously, no-one beats us for doing shit half assed.

Pave one side of the road, leave the other side "she'll be right"

Install a bus shelter on one side of the road complete with solar allumination, leave the other side as a 1x1m cement slab... or a dirt patch "She'll be right"

Yep! Now, would you be happier with doing the things fully-assed (including the hole)? Like in paving neither sides of the road?

Re:Australia - World leader in half assery (2)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#40581267)

Install a bus shelter on one side of the road complete with solar allumination, leave the other side as a 1x1m cement slab

Someone else from Brisbane I presume?

Re:Australia - World leader in half assery (1)

dontclapthrowmoney (1534613) | more than 2 years ago | (#40581825)

No - he didn't mention yellow bicycles.

Re:Australia - World leader in half assery (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#40585917)

Was it the Can Do (aka Canned Poo) attitude that gave it away?

In the mail? (3, Insightful)

Cmdrm (1683042) | more than 2 years ago | (#40580971)

Why were they taking information, which they have electronically, and putting it on a physical medium where it loses its usability, presumably so someone could use it. And they used regular mail? Seriously? Is this April fools or something, this is just too much fail to be real.

Re:In the mail? (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 2 years ago | (#40581957)

The worst part is they seem to believe switching contracts is an OK solution in-and-of itself. Does Australia have any sort of laws forcing the government to protect this stuff? If so, is the contractor and/or his/her company going to face prosecution? If not then that becomes an even bigger story.

Re:In the mail? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40582451)

Why were they taking information, which they have electronically, and putting it on a physical medium where it loses its usability, presumably so someone could use it.

Perhaps, that DVD was for archival, or legal purposes.

Anyway, the real error here was not having the entire thing encrypted.

Ah, she'll be right! (1)

YankDownUnder (872956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40581077)

"Government contractor" lost it on the way to the pub for lunch...she'll be right. Everything will be apples! ;)

legally protect, unlike digital networks (3, Insightful)

jjbarrows (958997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40581405)

atleast the packet has legal protection
in australia, the government owned physical packet switching network known as 'australia post' has huge legal protection over every single packet switchted through the network, unlike digital networks. even retaining the header (sender/reciever) data is illegal, and any deep packet inspection will be met with the full force of the federal police. so from a legal perspective the data is a lot safer in post than in your email inbox

Re:legally protect, unlike digital networks (2)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40582717)

That's assuming the DVD was indeed lost in the mail.

All that we know for sure is that the chain of custody was broken and that the data lost -- was mostly left unencrypted. For all we know, the DVD could have been, lost/stolen/social engineered from the receiving government agency, or lost/stolen/social engineered from the sending government contractor.

By telling us that the data was lost in the mail, they've fulfilled their strictest minimum legal obligation to publicize that there was indeed a breach. Now if the data gets used, they've limited their exposure, even if it gets shown that the data came from their database.

Ten years ago, an incident like that probably wouldn't even have been reported, less even publicized. So it's not like government agencies/employees, or private companies/employees, are above lying/withholding the truth to cover their asses. It's just that now, there is a minimum of disclosure the law requires them to do, when such a breach occurs.

Re:legally protect, unlike digital networks (1)

VJmes (2449518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40587533)

Unforunately for this packet switched network there are a lot of dropped packets.

Identity protection? (1)

qubezz (520511) | more than 2 years ago | (#40582293)

This is also why I scoff at the identity protection companies that regularly advertise in the US. They have got a new one "protect your children's ID". It would seem the first step to protecting your "identity" is not to give out information about yourself to companies like these ID protection companies.. Just the phrase "steal someone's identity" is stupid, "misuse my credentials" wouldn't sell ads though.

No worries (1)

ozduo (2043408) | more than 2 years ago | (#40586031)

Aust post is so good at loosing stuff that the data is positively secure and shouldn't surface for years. In fact this might be an effective back up solution.

Egg on Face (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40593181)

And they have Ostriches down there!

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