Privacy Advisor

Data Breaches Abound in the U.S., UK and Online

July 11, 2013

By Rory McNamara and
Jennifer Saunders, CIPP/US

Across the U.S. and the UK, data breach incidents, investigations and litigation have been making headlines in the past two weeks. And, globally, a videogame maker has reported a breach that may have affected four million of its users. Here are some of the top data breach stories, as well as links to insights on breach trends and how to address a breach if it happens.

Online

Some four million members of Club Nintendo—Nintendo’s member website—have had their names and contact information illegally accessed, according to the videogame maker. The company has been quick to note that is has not confirmed misuse of this information.

“Nintendo confirmed there had been around 15.46 million fraudulent login attempts from June 9 through (last) Thursday, of which 23,926 were successful,” The Japan Times.

In the U.S.

An employee at Guilford County Schools in North Carolina sent a PDF containing the names, addresses, grades and other records of 456 rising seniors at Page High School to a student’s guardian. The school district reports that the breach was accidental and was quickly identified and investigated.

Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration began notifying some 187,533 individuals that the state agency accidentally disclosed their personal information, monthly benefit amounts, some medical information and even Social Security numbers to members of the public. The breach allegedly stemmed from a computer programming error.

Morningstar revealed that it suffered a breach last April, compromising personal information and credit card details from some 2,300 users of its investment research service, Morningstar Document Research. Morningstar further warned that the passwords and e-mail addresses of some 182,000 users may have been illegally accessed. The AP reports that Morningstar offered affected customers a year of free identity protection services.

In the UK

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) could impose a fine of up to 200,000 GBP on Herefordshire Council following a breach that was reportedly “so sensitive that to reveal its details also risks breaching the Data Protection Act.”

Pulse, a weekly medical publication, published survey results showing that the number of data breaches at 55 UK hospitals increased 20 percent year-on-year through June 2013. Many of the reported breaches were one-off incidents, giving rise to the possibility that the increase might reflect more thorough reporting practices and awareness rather than increased data theft or inadequate security.

Investigations, Litigation

In breach litigation in the U.S., the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that a lawsuit stemming from the hacking of Copper Basin Federal Credit Union’s computers can move forward. The lawsuit alleges that the hacking and the resulting illegal transfer of funds was a result of negligence by Fiserv Solutions, a contracted technical support provider. The complaint claims that Fiserv failed to activate the antivirus firewall and protection software it required the credit union to purchase as part of its service contract.

In Missouri, the Office of the Attorney General has determined Schnuck Markets Inc. did not violate Missouri data security law, St. Louis Business Journal reports, noting the determination follows an investigation into a widespread data breach at Schnucks.

The Federal District Court for the Middle District of Florida threw out a class-action lawsuit alleging that employees at Adventist Hospital System’s Florida Hospital Celebration sold patients’ PHI. The dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction notes that as HIPAA/HITECH does not provide for a private right of action, just a regulatory penalty, there was no sufficient federal issue to justify a hearing in federal court. State law, however, may accord the plaintiffs an avenue to pursue their claims.

Breach Guidance

ID Experts has compiled 12 “top trends in data breach, privacy and security” as enumerated by some of the top minds in the field. Advanced persistent threats—long-term, undetected hacks—and globalized data thieves top the list. A colorful infographic makes things easy for those who want to do less reading.

Meanwhile, Corporate Counsel offers advice for communicating with customers following a breach incident.