Social security numbers and other sensitive information belonging to more than 5,000 customers of ABN Amro Mortgage Group have been leaked onto the BearShare file-sharing network by a former employee, according to news reports.
The information, which also included names and mortgage details, appear to have been leaked after a former business analyst for the company installed the file-sharing software on her PC and proceeded to share a large swath of her hard drive with the entire network. Included with five spreadsheets containing the ABN Amro customer data were a resume and travel documents belonging to the woman, who was located in Florida, according to Dow Jones.
"For an identity thief, a find like (this) is a gold mine," Robert Boback, chief executive of Tiversa, told the newswire. "This would provide years of content for them to perfect their crimes."
A spokesman for Citigroup, owner of ABN Amro Mortgage, said company officials were investigating the reports.
It's the second recent incident to underscore how careless some computer users are with file-sharing programs. Several weeks ago, a Seattle man was charged over allegations he used the LimeWire and Soulseek P2P networks as conduits for identity theft. According to court documents, Gregory Kopiloff, 35, used personal information he pulled off other people's computers to establish bogus credit card accounts and fraudulently purchase thousands of dollars of merchandise.
Most file sharing programs allow people to share as much or as little of their hard drive contents as they wish. The breaches seem to be the result of users who designate files stored in personal folders to be available for others to download.
This lack of hygiene hasn't gone unnoticed by scammers. More than one billion searches are conducted daily over P2P systems, and a good number of them involve bank names and the words "password," according to Boback, whose firm offers data-leakage protection services. ®