Biggest data breach in UK didn’t require a hacker

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Staff at mobile phone company T-Mobile passed on millions of records from thousands of customers to third party brokers, the firm has confirmed. Details emerged after the firm alerted the information commissioner, who said his office was preparing a prosecution.

Christopher Graham said brokers had sold the data to other phone firms, who then cold-called the customers as their contracts were due to expire.

A T-Mobile spokesman said the data had been sold “without our knowledge”.

Mr Graham, who was appointed earlier this year as the watchdog responsible for safeguarding personal information, said the data breach was the biggest of its kind.

Initially Mr Graham had said he would not name the operator involved as it could prejudice a prosecution. But after phone firms 02, Vodafone, Orange, 3 and Virgin said they were not the subject of his investigation, T-Mobile confirmed it had been…

Mr Graham said investigators had been working with the company after it reported suspicions of an unlawful trade in customers’ data…

A spokesman for T-Mobile said the sale of the data had been “deeply regrettable” and that it had been asked to keep it secret to avoid any criminal prosecutions being prejudiced…

No doubt TV talking heads will be stretched to come up with a definition other than the perpetual “hacker”. You should look back into the history of white-collar crime and discover the term “thief” is still pretty sound.

The commodity may vary. The process of stealing – and selling stolen goods – remains the same.

3 thoughts on “Biggest data breach in UK didn’t require a hacker

  1. Cinaedh says:

    In North America, this wouldn’t even be a crime, would it?

    I mean, as a basic starting point for this discussion, governments and multi-national corporations seem to assume there’s no such thing as private information, once they get their slimy, scaly claws on it.

    We should ask the telemarketers, who blithely ignore the Do-Not-Call lists, exactly where they’re getting their information these days.

  2. Mr. Fusion says:

    Depending on what I’m doing, I like to go along with telemarketers. Get the name of the company, what they are selling, ask them why their number didn’t come up on my call display, why they are calling when I’m on the Do-Not-Call list, … They usually hang up about that point.

    • Cinaedh says:

      I’ve lost count of the number of telemarketers who’ve rudely hung up on me.

      I don’t understand it.

      True, I’m on every Do-Not_Call list known to man but then again, I’m such pleasant and interesting conversationalist…

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