Personal data of 550,000 Red Cross blood donors was breached

The leak in Australia happened because a file was left unsecured by a third party provider

The Australian Red Cross said its blood donor service has found that registration information of 550,000 donors had been compromised, which the agency blamed on human error by a third-party contractor.

The moot issue at this point, which may decide how the breach unfolds, is that nobody knows how many people have the data. The information from 2010 to 2016 was available on the website from Sept. 5 to Oct. 25. this year.

The database backup, consisting of 1.74GB with about 1.3 million records, contains information about blood donors, such as name, gender, physical address, email address, phone number, date of birth, blood type, country of birth, and previous donations, according to security researcher Troy Hunt.

In a statement apologizing for the incident, the Australian Red Cross said Friday that its Blood Service became aware on Oct. 26 that the file containing donor information had been placed in “an insecure environment” by the third party charged with developing and maintaining the Blood Service’s website.

The information was copied by a person who was scanning for security vulnerabilities who later, through an intermediary, informed the Australian Cyber Emergency Response Team (AusCERT) with whom the Blood Service has membership, the Australian Red Cross said.

“We have managed to have all known copies of the archive deleted, and have removed the vulnerability from the web developer’s server,” it added. The agency has also hired a team of experts to do the forensic analysis of the incident and is also setting up a task force to evaluate governance and the security structures of the blood service.

Hunt wrote that he was contacted on Tuesday morning by someone who found the data on donateblood.com.au, the website of the Blood Service, while scanning internet IP addresses on the lookout for publicly exposed web servers returning directory listings. The backup database was published to a publicly facing website, which had directory browsing enabled on the server, according to Hunt.

“Showing a public listing of the file contents of the server is a well-known risk and there's rarely a valid justification for this, precisely for the sorts of reasons demonstrated with this incident,” he wrote.

Troy said he contacted AusCERT, the Australian version of the computer emergency response teams that many countries including the U.S. have, and they got in touch with the Red Cross.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?