Are all systems built equally?

So one thing that keeps coming up is thoughts like, “but if someone wants to find a way in they will”.  This is mainly from customers of Baby’s Days who seem to be saying that the 2 security issues I’ve found on the system, one about photos and the other abut parent comments not being stored securely, have come about because I’m “looking for issues”.

The two flaws I’ve posted about, I was not “looking” for; the first a parent told me about after he found it out by accident trying to download his child’s photos in bulk (as parents can not bulk down their children’s photos from their logins).  The second came up after I was looking at URL strings trying to find out if my own photos were stored somewhere on my own laptop in a temporary folder.  Both issues have cropped up quite by accident, there was no looking or probing involved.

Some other customers have also suggested that the same issue could come up with any of the EYFS online software providers and with this post I’m really hoping to clear up that misconception.

Before I continue it I want to make it clear that the issues I am talking about below aren’t necessarily connected to Baby’s Days uniquely, I am talking about computer programming as a whole.

The first question is, “Is it true that a determined “hacker” could get into any internet system if they tried hard enough?”  I’m not really qualified to answer that question with 100% certainty but from briefly reading around this area, it seems that if someone was dedicated enough they would find a way into almost any system.  As I’ve posted before Baby’s Days claims of being 100% secure are ludicrous but obviously some systems are easier to get into that others and some people are better at getting into them than other people.

So does this mean those that claim, “it’s ok that you found these flaws Hayley, anyone can find flaws in anything if they try hard enough” have a valid point?  It is my opinion that these people are missing the point somewhat; whilst their opinion is true it is rather short sighted.  I will try and explain this with a simple analogy.

All houses are houses and if you try hard enough despite the best security systems there will probably always be one clever burglar that could get in if he or she really wanted. If you had a suitcase of cash which house would you put it in?

House 1: The house with every external security system going, it was designed by an award winning architect and the structure is perfect.

House 2: This house has all the same features as house one in terms of external security.  But it was the first house this builder had ever made, and he didn’t quite get all the bricks lined up properly and there are a couple of little cracks here and there.

They are both houses, but you’re going to put your suitcase into house 1 aren’t you?  This is because although both houses carry the risk of getting broken into by some burglar, house 1 carries less risk than house 2.

So yes, “anyone can find flaws in anything if they try hard enough”, but the point is some systems are considerably harder than others to access.  It is deeply unfair on those systems that take time, money and effort to ensure the programme they create is on par with the award winning architect in House 1, to simply shrug issues like this away.

I understand that people don’t need the added stress and worry in life of thinking too much about these things and it’s far more convenient to just hope for the best.  But as a practitioner that should be working in accordance with the Data Protection Act, “well these days shit just happens doesn’t it?” wont curry any favours with the ICO unfortunately.

Please put that new feature of bulk download to good use and download your system to your home computer daily.  You really don’t want to be in the position I am in right now.

 

 

Can Baby’s Days access your system and info?

In their Privacy Policy Baby’s Days/Sys IQ Ltd state,

Our staff do not have access to any user passwords and are, therefore, unable to access the organisation’s account or data without receiving an invitation from the Master Administrator.

I have had a few blog readers and Facebook members tell me that Baby’s Days have accessed their systems without the user providing them with a user name and password.  If this has happened to you please comment below, if you post using the name Anon, Baby’s Days will not know it was you.

I’m hoping that some of the techie blog readers can help with some questions around this issue?

  1. Baby’s Days record users IP addresses.  In theory could they access a users system without a username and password using the IP address?
  2. If you stopped using Baby’s Days and they kept a record of your IP could they in theory still access your computer even if you no longer run the programme?
  3. If someone could access you computer using the IP address alone, can they change data on your laptop or only view it?

Obviously I could never say categorically that Baby’s Days have accessed users systems with IP addresses only.  But it would be interesting to learn if this is possible.

Pop back tomorrow when I will be blogging about a how all systems are not built equally.

 

 

Have I found another flaw?

Before I start this post, I should clarify that I’m not a very technical person, I don’t know much about computers beyond basic functions such as web browsing and word processing.  I have a vague idea that programmes are written in code, but beyond that I know no more.  I know that you can look many things up on Google and that wikipedia is a great resource.

Given this complete lack of IT knowledge, it’s a little concerning that I may have found another security flaw on Baby’s Days; to clarify this flaw is on the Demo site and on current customers sites.  You can see if for yourself, it’s not straightforward but I’m happy to talk anyone through it if they would like to see it for themselves.

The flaw is an issue that most IT people would label, “unsecured data at rest”; this means that when the data has been sent to the server securely, it is then stored in an unsecure manner.  The data in question is parent comments.  The parent types the comment in on the photo (I’ve only tested this on diary photo comments), the comments are then sent to the server via encrypted transfer and then they are stored on the server logs in plain text – which sort of makes the encrypted transfer rather redundant in my opinion!

This means that anyone at the server end (ie. Data Centre employees and thirds party contractors and Baby’s Days employees) can read all the comments parents place on diary photographs.  Without getting too complicated, the programme absolutely does not need to be written in this way and Baby’s Days could easily make the storage of parent comments more secure.

Here is a screen shot to give you an idea, the screen shot is from a demo, but this will also happen on your own system.  As you can see I have underlined the parents comments and you can see they are stored in the URL log, which is then sent and stored on the server.  Click on the photo to make it bigger.

Given that Baby’s Days stated I was lying about the last security issue regarding photographs, then I expect this issue will also be swept under the carpet in the same way.  Like the last issue, I emailed Baby’s Days to inform them of the flaw 48 hours before I published my blog.

Ok, so some of you reading this might be thinking, “so what, does it really matter that people can read my parents comments?”

The answer to this will vary from person to person and ultimately I’m only writing about this due to Baby’s Days 100% secure claims, this is another post that suggests it’s not 100% secure.  The way this part of the system has been written appears at best bad practice and and worst unsafe.  Is this the result of using possibly incompetent freelancers?  I would have hoped that freelance developers would be competent at developing secure systems – or at least following some basic best practices which doesn’t seem to be the case here at all.

But at any rate, in my opinion that’s not really the question you should be asking. I think the more important question here is; “If a childminder with no knowledge of computer programming can find 2 security issues with the system, how many could someone with more experience find?”

 

Sys IQ Ltd has not complied with Principle 7 of the Data Protection Act.

So it’s been confirmed by the ICO that one part of my problem with my data being withheld by Baby’s Days has been resolved at least.  Despite knowing we wanted the data back, Baby’s Days went ahead and deleted the data anyway.  The ICO have found that because this child’s data has been deleted by Baby’s Days / Sys IQ Ltd, they have not complied with Principle 7 of the Data Protection Act.

There are Eight Principles to The Data Protection Act and from my understanding Principle 7 – which is labelled “security”, is about, you guessed it – security.  How ironic that a company plugging itself as “100% secure” has not complied with the part of the DPA relating to Security!

The ICO website says Pinciple 7:

means you must have appropriate security to prevent the personal data you hold being accidentally or deliberately compromised

So which was it do you think blog readers?  Was my co-minders daughters data accidentally compromised, in which case, how can you be sure this won’t happen to any data you have stored with the company?

Or do you think my co-minders daughters data was deliberately compromised, in which case, again, how can you be sure this won’t happen to any data you have stored with the company?

Either option doesn’t exactly scream 100% secure to me.  What this now means is that under the DPA I have the right to take this matter to court, which obviously I intend to do.  If anyone reading this might know someone who would like to take the case get in touch via the contact option on the blog or through Facebook.

Baby’s Days isn’t ISO27001 Accredited.

A reader has sent me a message through the blog asking me if Baby’s Days are ISO27001 accredited as it seems to suggest they are on their webpage.  Here is the message I was sent:

“You’ll notice on the babydays website they show the ISO 27001 accreditation logo. I’m pretty sure (from my brief checks) that they don’t have accreditation – and are falsely claiming so by use of the logo. I don’t have time but hope you might be able to look into this?”

So are Baby’s Days ISO27001 Accredited is the question?  No is the answer.  Read on if you want to hear the long version…

For those that don’t know, ISO27001 is a certificate given to companies to add credibility to their data handling and demonstrates that a product or service meets the expectations of customers.  It essentially shows that a company has information security risks under control.  The Data Centre that Baby’s Days use has this accreditation, but Baby’s Days / Sys IQ itself do not even though the logo appears on their website.

Baby’s Days software ie. your actual person Baby’s Days domain, is not ISO accredited, so where the Baby’s Days website says,

“This certification means that you can rest easy, knowing your system and confidential data is being managed to a rigorous set of standards, processes and industry best-practices which are regularly reviewed to ensure ongoing compliance and improvement.”Source

it’s not totally accurate.  What is should say is that your system and confidential data is being managed by the data centre to a rigorous set of standards.  It’s no confirmation or guarantee it’s being handled using best practices by Sys IQ Ltd / Baby’s Days themselves, so it’s a bit misleading to feel like you can, “rest easy” in my opinion.

It is also important for people to be aware that the actual system itself, or how Sys IQ Ltd store and process your data is not covered by the data centres ISO certification or nor is it offered by any other guarantee or certificate for that matter.  The actual data could be in the safest place on the planet (and in fairness they do use a very secure storage site, just like many other EYFS software companies do), but if data is accessed via your system (as I showed last week photos could be accessed without a password) itself then where the data is being stored is irrelevant.

So, to summarise, am I saying the system is unsafe?  No.  Am I saying they should be accredited?  No.

I am clarifying the (in my opinion vague) information from Baby’s Days website so that readers are aware of how unregulated this area is and I’m saying that SYS IQ / Baby’s Days are not accredited and do not necessarily follow best practice guidelines regarding security risks as set out in ISO27001.  I am also saying that this is no certificate/accreditation to ensure your actual system is 100% secure as the website claims.

You can check a companies accreditation certificates by clicking here.