Feeds

Info guardian to investigate call centre data leaks

TV expose´ prompts ICO security probe

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The Information Commissioner is launching an investigation into outsourced data centres after a television programme exposed security breaches at Indian call centres.

Channel 4's Dispatches was offered individuals' banking details for as little as £8 by criminal networks in India.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) will investigate the practices of the mobile phone companies whose call centres were allegedly the source of the information. The investigation starts immediately.

"It appears that some mobile phone companies' call centres in India are being targeted by criminals intent on unlawfully obtaining UK citizens' financial records and this will be the focus of our investigation," said David Smith, deputy information commissioner.

"We are concerned by any breaches of security particularly if they involve confidential banking details. We provide clear guidance to organisations that outsource overseas to help them ensure people's personal information is secure and is processed in line with data protection principles."

The ICO could prevent some companies sending their data outside the UK for processing, forcing them to carry out back office functions in the UK. "Depending on the outcome of our investigation we will consider whether we need to use our formal enforcement powers to prevent incidents like this happening again in the future," said Smith. "Ultimately, this could include ordering a company to stop processing personal information outside the UK."

The Dispatches programme showed one man who claimed to be prepared to sell the credit card details of 200,000 people to the programme's reporter. Another claimed to be able to sell the mobile phone details of 8,000 people to the programme. Some of the information was available for as little as £8 per person.

UK organisations are responsible for the security of their customer information. If they use an outsourced call centre, whether in the UK or India, the Data Protection Act requires them to ensure that adequate security is in place.

Smith said companies which outsource their data processing or any back office functions are entirely responsible for that data and its security. It is not permissible, he said, for a company to simply pass blame on to a contractor.

"UK organisations are responsible for the security of their customer information. If they use an outsourced call centre whether in the UK or India, the Data Protection Act requires them to ensure that adequate security is in place in the call centre," he said.

Employee fraud is increasingly a problem for all companies. Fraud consultancy BDO Stoy Hayward reported earlier this year that employee fraud levels had almost tripled between 2003 and 2005 to almost £1bn in the UK. Financial services companies were the hardest hit, the report said.

Smith said the problem was by no means solely an Indian one. "This issue – where people sell on personal information for a price – is not confined to India," he said. "As our report "What Price Privacy?" shows, it happens in the UK and it is a criminal offence. Where we find evidence of breaches of the Data Protection Act we do have powers to take formal action and we do bring prosecutions."

See: The Information Commissioner's Office

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.