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Casual use of file sharing by the spouse of an unnamed Pfizer worker has been blamed for leaking personal information on more than 17,000 current and former employees at the pharmaceutical giant.

Unauthorised installation of a P2P package on a company laptop led to the exposure of worker data, presumably after a directory holding the information was inadvertently offered up for sharing to world+dog.

Similar breaches involving misuse of the popular Winny P2P protocol on corporate PCs have been recorded in Japan, but the Pfizer case is the first of its kind in North America.

The breach prompted Pfizer attorney Bernard Nash to send a letter to attorneys generals in states where potentially hit workers live, apologising for the problem and promising to offer workers a year of free credit monitoring, at a reported cost to the firm of $25,000.

The Connecticut Attorney General's Office has followed up this letter (PDF) with requests for more information about the breach, which affected 305 Pfizer workers who are resident in the state.

Pfizer has also written to workers to warn them that their names and social security numbers might have been exposed to potential fraud. ®

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