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German card leak delivered by microfilm

Old school security breach

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Editors of the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper were stunned to receive a box containing the microfilmed details of tens of thousands of credit card holders last week.

The anonymously-dispatched microfilm included customer details including names, address, credit card numbers and payment records. A few PIN notification letters were included within the parcel received by Frankfurter Rundschau but, contrary to early reports, PINs were not included on the microfilm received by the paper.

The data came from Landesbank Berlin, Germany's biggest issuer of credit cards, and referred to cards held with ADAC (a German motoring organisation), Amazon Visa and XBox Classic credit cards, among others. Also included in the package was a bill from IT service firm Atos Worldline addressed to Landesbank. Atos charged Landesbank €71,400 ($98,000) for data processing services.

Information in the package dated from last August.

It's unclear who sent the package or what motivated the leak, described by some elements of the German media as the "worst ever case of data theft" in the country. That may be a little over the top, especially since less than a fortnight ago cybercrooks' attempt to auction what they claimed were details of 21m German bank accounts on a black market website for €12m ($15.3m).

The one sure thing the Landesbank incident illustrates is that insecure servers and misplaced CDs are not the only potential source of information security data breaches. ®

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