Computer Crime Research Center


Hackers kidnapped 32,000 people

Date: March 23, 2005
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: CCRC staff

Using misappropriated passwords and identifications from legitimate customers, intruders got access to personal information on as many as 32,000 U.S. citizens in a database owned by Lexis Nexis, the company's corporate parent said Wednesday.

Reed Elsevier Group said the breach of its recently acquired Seisint unit was being investigated by staff and by U.S. law enforcement authorities.

Boca Raton, Fla.-based Seisint stores millions of personal records including individuals' addresses and social security numbers. Customers include police and legal professionals and public and private sector organizations.

Reed Elsevier bought Seisint — which provides data for Matrix, a crime and terrorism database project funded by the U.S. government that has raised concerns among civil liberties groups — for $775 million in August.

The breach at Seisint is the second of its kind at a large information provider in recent months.

Rival data broker ChoicePoint said last month that the personal information of 145,000 Americans may have been compromised in a breach in which thieves posing as small business customers gained access to its database.

In the ChoicePoint scam, at least 750 people were defrauded, authorities say. The incident in the United States fueled consumer advocates' calls for federal oversight of the loosely regulated data-brokering business, and Capitol Hill hearings are due to be scheduled on the issue.

In the Seisint breach, information accessed included names, addresses, Social Security and driver license numbers, but not credit history, medical records or financial information, Reed Elsevier said in a statement.

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