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Dutch news agency goof leaks VIP phone numbers

Low security in the Low Countries

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Security shortcomings by Dutch press agency GPD exposed the private telephone numbers of politicians and other public figures to prying eyes until earlier this week.

Former telephone numbers of controversial anti-immigration MP Geert Wilders and an old (now disconnected) mobile, formerly belonging to prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende, were left exposed by the leak. Current phone numbers exposed by the snafu included those of TV presenters Mart Smeets, Jort Kelder and Felix Meurders, as well as those of hundreds of other celebrities and media figures in The Netherlands.

The exposed numbers were held on a communal database maintained by reporters at the agency. Technology site Tweakers discovered that the database was only protected by an easily-guessed password. Confidential telephone and other information was left open to anyone with enough nous to construct an appropriate Google search.

GPD has acknowledged the error and padlocked its database to protect sensitive information, Dutchnews reports.

Expatica adds that GPD is blaming a configuration error for the snafu, which exposed what ought to have been an internal intranet-only application to the great unwashed.

Dutch news outlet NOS has a story that contains a screen shot from Google returning the prime minister's mobile number (cropped out) here. And there's more on the story (for Dutch speakers) at nu.nl here.

The incident is not the first time GPD has made the news itself as a result of information security shortcomings. In November 2007, two officials from the Ministry of Social Affairs were caught lifting information from the GPD database using the credentials of a former employee. ®

Bootnote

Thanks to Dutch reader Edwin for the tip on this story.

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