Private sector data loss in Japan

I’ve blogged a fair bit in the past about state and private data losses in the UK. In Japan too this has been a big problem, and is a reasons given by central government for the need to centralise databases and by opponents talking about the risk of such centralisation.

The latest major data loss, just the other day, was by the giant banking combine, Mitsubishi UFJ Nicos, which accidentally ‘threw away’ personal data on almost 200,000 customers from 1993 to 2001. Of course MUFJ Nicos say there is no security or financial risk, but then organisations in these situation always say something like that…

Not all of these data losses are accidents however. Back in April, another part of the Mitsubishi keiretsu (a Japanese term for a loosely-connected ‘family’ of companies), Mitsubishi UFJ Securities, fired one of its managers, Hideaki Kubo, who is alleged to have stolen personal data on almost one and and half million customers, and had allegedly already sold data on 49,000 to data brokers for the rather unimpressive sum of just 32,0000 Yen (around $3200 US). He is believed to have had considerable debts.

In short, it doesn’t matter how strong your firewalls are, or how good your computer security is, if there is an employee, or a government bureaucrat with access to sensitive data, who is in financial difficulty or who is simply aggrieved or greedy, then data will leak out. The risks are not small, in fact it seems almost inevitable, and I believe that the number and scale of such losses are probably significantly under-reported by both private firms and government. Of course, it is also significant just how many supposedly reputably companies are prepared to pay for stolen data. This trade is certainly not taken seriously enough by regulators in most countries…

Author: David

I'm David Murakami Wood. I live on Wolfe Island, in Ontario, and am Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies and an Associate Professor at Queen's University, Kingston.

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