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Vulnerabilities / Threats

User Buys Millions of Bank Records (& a PC) on eBay

Used computer reveals sensitive customer data that should have been wiped clean, eBay buyer says

When Andrew Chapman bought a PC on eBay for about $150, he didn't expect the added bonus -- the personal records of millions of customers of a major international bank.

Chapman says he found "several million" personal records on the PC. The records, which belonged to the National Bank of Scotland, its NatWest subsidiary, and American Express, had been stored on the machine by a third-party archiving company, according to news reports about the eBay purchase of the National Bank of Scotland data.

The data includes account details, and in some cases, customers' signatures, mobile phone numbers, and mothers' maiden names, Chapman says.

Chapman said anyone with a basic knowledge of computer software would have been able to find the data fairly simply. "The information was in back-up CDs and in ISO files, so it would have been possibly quite easy to find if you know something about computers," he said.

A spokeswoman for data processing company Mail Source, which is part of the archiving firm Graphic Data, said it was investigating how the computer equipment had been removed from a secure location. "The IT equipment that appeared on eBay was neither planned nor instructed by the company to be disposed," she said.

Spokespeople for Graphic Data, the banks, American Express, eBay, and U.K. law enforcement agencies all expressed concern about the incident and said they would begin an investigation as soon as Chapman gives the computer back to Graphic Data.

No word on whether Chapman will make any profit on the deal, or whether the interested parties will leave him positive feedback.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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