AT&T fires insider for slurping customers' social security numbers, driver licenses and more

To those affected: All your data are belong to ... that guy

AT&T has warned subscribers that a rogue staffer rifled through the telco's customer database without authorization.

The telecoms giant said one of its workers pulled up sensitive information – including social security numbers – and was duly fired for breaking the corp's privacy rules.

According to a letter [PDF] to customers, the staffer also accessed driving license numbers and other data earlier this year. A copy of the memo was sent to Vermont's Attorney General, as required by state law, who published it online.

"We recently determined that one of our employees violated our strict privacy and security guidelines by accessing your account without authorization in August 2014, and while doing so, would have been able to view and may have obtained your account information including your social security number and driver's license number," AT&T told customers in the letter.

"Additionally, while accessing your account, the employee would also have been able to view your Customer Proprietary Network Information without proper authorization."

The company is offering identity-theft insurance and a year of credit monitoring services to customers for free, though both are offered on an opt-in basis; subscribers must enroll using an ID number provided by AT&T.

AT&T is also advising people to change the passcodes on their accounts.

The company promised to reverse any fraudulent charges made as a result of the data breach. Sources familiar with the matter have placed the number of people affected at around 1,600, making the AT&T incident far smaller in scope than some of the recent leaks hitting retailers.

"Insiders are worse than hackers because there's no way to protect against them that's truly effective," offered Jonathan Sander, a strategy and research officer at Stealthbits Technologies.

"If you need to do business, you need people to access information. If the wrong person or the person in the wrong frame of mind decides to use that access badly, what can you do?"

Earlier this year AT&T reported another small-scale breach in which a group of contractors accessed an archive of customer account information including social security numbers. ®

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022