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Experian under investigation over data sale to criminal

2013 investigation bites data broker

Website security in corporate America

Data-farmer Experian is under investigation for last year's data breach, in which around 200 million identity records were sold to criminals.

The investigation arises from the discovery of the breach last October by researcher Brian Krebs, explained in greater detail at his blog.

Part of that story reached a conclusion during March when a Vietnamese national, Hieu Minh Ngo, pleaded guilty to a federal court in New Hampshire for running a Website that offered access to the data.

Now, Reuters is reporting that Illinois, Connecticut, and other unnamed US states are investigating Experian over possible breaches of state laws.

The report points to two prongs of the investigation: whether Experian properly secured customer data, and whether it followed data breach disclosure rules.

Ngo gained access to the data by setting up an account with a company called Court Ventures, which operated a gateway to a number of data sets – including the US Info Search data now at the centre of the argument. Experian acquired Court Ventures, and as Krebs notes, is now complaining that its own data was never at issue.

However, its ownership of Court Ventures now puts Experian at the nexus not only of the state-level investigations, but also in an on-going legal tit-for-tat over whether Ngo should have been able to pose as a private investigator and gain access to the data that Court Ventures was broking. ®

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