Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Globe and Worcester T&G customer credit info mistakenly released - The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe just released up to 227,000 credit card numbers of account holders.

Its the same old story familiar from the Internet, but this time it was the back office systems that were involved. For some reason they had printed out details of large numbers of subscribers, including their credit card info. Then instead of being shredded the sheets were reused to wrap copies of the paper.

This is likely to be a very expensive mistake indeed. It costs the banks something like $50 to reissue a credit card and those costs are passed back to the merchant if they are found to be at fault. If all 227,000 cards are compromised that comes to over $11 million.

What this really shows is that businesses need to think about security in all their business processes, not just when they are on the Internet. Most Etailers know that they have to protect card numbers after CDNow got slapped with a $1 million charge. It looks like this message has not got home to non-Internet merchants.

Traded on the black market the credit card numbers would be worth $1 to $5 each. The chance that the numbers involved in the reported incident will be used criminally is quite small, far more card numbers are stolen than can ever be used. These particular numbers are going to be facing much tighter scruitiny. But what about the safety of the numbers before this happened? What does it say about the Boston Globe that this information was so easy to get to? A newsagent who finds a couple of hundred credit card account details wrapped around their stack of newspapers would have to be quite desperate to be tempted by a potential reward of a couple of hundred bucks. But a clerk working in the back office is a different story.

1 comment:

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