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Seedy hacker steals 1300 Monsanto client and staff records

Ag giant says crims weren't after personal information

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Monsanto has admitted credit card data along with names, addresses and US taxation information for 1300 customers and employees was compromised in after hackers broke into its servers.

The March breach affected Monsanto's Precision Planting division which manufactured specialist farming equipment. It came as the agriculture giant pushed to sell big data intelligence services harvested from and disseminated to its customers.

Precision Planting senior counsel Reuben Shelton said in a letter (pdf) sent to the Office of the Attorney General Maryland the attackers were not thought to have sought client and staff data.

"We believe this unauthorised access was not an attempt to steal customer information; however, it is possible that files containing personal information may have been accessed and therefore we are making this notification," Shelton said.

"Files on the affected servers contained personal information, including customer names, addresses, tax identification numbers (which in some cases could be Social Security Numbers), and (in some cases) financial account information.

"Additionally, some HR data was stored on the servers, including some W2 tax forms that contained employee name, address, and Social Security numbers and (for a small number of employees) driver’s license numbers."

The company told specialist agriculture news site Argi-Pulse hackers did not steal customer farming data which was stored on a separate server.

Monsanto has offered affected staff and clients a year of credit monitoring services to combat the risk of subsequent fraud and was reviewing the security of its systems.

The ag giant has been a favourite target of hacktivists. In 2011, members of the Anonymous hacking collective stole and published details of 2500 Monsanto employees.

More recently, members operating under #operationgreenrights last month claimed to have hacked and released 1800 usernames and passwords stolen from companies including Monsanto. In January it released what it claimed were 48 database name records along with login information. ®

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