With the latest data breaches at Optus Telecommunications in Australia, there is a lot of (justified) concern regarding data security and the protection of your data. The information stored by Optus and the access allowed to it was very poor and is definitely not the level of protection you would expect from any business.
We have been in the web hosting and security business for over 20 years with our web hosting arm, AusTiger Hosting, working with government agencies, large organisations throughout Australia and the Pacific and have been audited and received certifications from the likes of the ACT Government. It is built into our DNA and we are paranoid, as you should be, about network and data security.
There are a number of areas relating to protecting the data of you and your members and we will go through some of them here.
Encrypting your data
Data encryption can be done a number of ways using different industry related standards of complexity. We use best practice for types of encryption used to protect your data.
Two way encryption allows data to be encrypted, stored or transferred, and then decrypted back to its original state. One way encryption (or hashing) allows data to be encrypted but can never be returned to its original state. We use both techniques.
All data in transit, between our servers and your web browser or mobile app is completely encrypted. This is done, as you may know, using SSL web traffic encryption. Never, ever, login or access personal data if you don’t see https in the web url, or the lock indicator in your browser.
We also encrypt the majority of data at rest. That is the data that is stored in the database used by your Member Jungle site.
When we only need to compare data, like a password, we just compare the hashed version of it. This is one-way encryption and provides a super-high level of security.
Passwords and System Access
We have multiple layers of password protection which we are constantly updating. All of our passwords are hashed. Hashed passwords are one-way encrypted and cannot be reverse engineered. This means that no one in our organisation can determine an existing password. Membership administrators cannot see an existing password. No one can, even if they had access to the underlying data.
Accounts are locked after a number of password attempts to stop brute force attacks. Our systems also determine other nefarious activities like multiple payment attempts, common attack vectors (industry known hacks) and block the systems attempting these attacks.
We encourage all systems administrators and anyone who accesses your club’s data to have complex passwords. As an extra level of security, Two-Factor Authentication is about to be rolled out for all systems administrators.
We highly encourage the use of password safes like 1 Password or Lastpass. These applications allow you to use highly complex and safe passwords as well as alert you if passwords are discovered in any global data breaches. Do not reuse passwords and, if you do, make sure your email address password is completely different. It is your last line of defence and if that is discovered, all ‘Forgot Password’ functions from all other systems can then be used to access your accounts everywhere.
We use multiple levels of firewall protection for our systems and your data. As part of best practices we use firewall and intrusion protection systems from multiple vendors.
Firstly, we have protection from the general public from known locations and in some instances specific countries. In this first layer of protection, we are using dynamically adjusted protection from one of the largest internet providers using their latest systems. We are a hosting partner with this organisation and have close contact with them and their security teams. This level or protection also includes coverage of denial of services attacks and down to specific application attempts.
We also use this firewall system to protect between servers in our own closed environment.
The second and third level of protection is application level security. This means that every page view or data access is checked by both a third-party application firewall and then our own measures to further inspect what actions are attempted.
Architecture Designed for Isolation
Since day one, the Member Jungle architecture has been designed to separate authentication systems, web servers, application servers and database servers. Therefore, in the unlikely event that anything is penetrated , there is complete isolation and the risk is massively minimised.
Any API’s (Application Program Interfaces) we use are double-handshake authentication, meaning that both ends have to correctly authenticate before data is exchanged. (The Optus data breach had NO authentication whatsoever!).
Our hosting architecture can only be accessed by a small number of the Member Jungle team using our VPN with separate levels of authentication via access key encryption and then password access.
The Member Jungle payment gateway is built on top of the Stripe payment gateway. Stripe is one of the leading global payment gateways and has bank level protection to data. They have the highest level of PCI Certification (Payment Card Industry).
Within the processing step of a transaction processed via Stripe there are additional fraud checks done against that card and the nature of the transaction.
Member Jungle stores no credit or payment data on our systems. If a member ‘stores’ or saves their credit or debit card, all information is stored at Stripe (with all their protection) and we only store a link that can be used to charge that card for future transactions and only from your Member Jungle web site.
We also limit the number of payments, successful or not, that can be transacted in a period of time.
The other thing we have learnt over the years is to not get too specific about what we do with security. In this article we have given an overview of what we do to rest your mind, but have intentionally not named specific vendors or approaches we take. The less the bad guys know the more secure the system and hence your data.
Our approach is to always use the best in class software systems and vendors. With our key vendors we work with them closely, most as vendor developer partners so we have additional access to their experts.
Do you store identification documents?
Absolutely not. We do not store drivers licences, passports, health cards or any other identification documents at all for our clients.
If you ever have provided, or need to provide, identification for a payment gateway account, that information is not stored on our servers. It is used by Stripe to satisfy banking regulations 100 point checks, and then destroyed.
P.S. Please don’t collect this information from your members. Although it is possible for you to do this without our knowledge using a membership form image upload, and it will be encrypted, don’t do it. It puts you and your members at risk.
Do you share information with anyone else?
No member data is shared with ANY third-party organisation. Not specific data, not rolled up data, not anonymised data. Nothing.
Your data is your data, not someone else’s. One of the driving forces behind Member Jungle is our obsession with privacy and the hatred (is that too strong?) of internet systems, especially social media organisations, who share your data and/or use it for advertisers.
We will never do that.
Will you advise us if there is a breach?
Of course. Immediately.
One of our core values is to ‘Be Transparent’, internally and externally. We will let you know what the extent is and we will also work with the Australian Cyber Security Centre to address the issue.
So our data is safe and never will get hacked?
We can’t absolutely guarantee that we will never get hacked. Anyone who tells you they can’t be hacked should raise alarm bells for you. NASA gets hacked, Banks get hacked, Telecommunications companies get hacked. But, we have gone through very significant steps to protect you and your club and have specific internal and external monitoring and logging systems in place for detection. As I said at the start of this article, we are paranoid, and we have to be or else we will not be constantly improving.