Citigroup Inc. reported last month that computer hackers breached the bank’s network and accessed the data of about 200,000 bank card holders in North America. This is the latest of a series of cyber attacks on high-profile companies. According to Citi, the names of customers, account numbers and contact information, including email addresses, were viewed in the breach. It appears that the breach was discovered by the bank in early May. Citi claims other information, such as birth dates, social security numbers, card expiration dates and card security codes (CVV) were not compromised. A spokesperson for Citi said by email:
We are contacting customers whose information was impacted. Citi has implemented enhanced procedures to prevent a recurrence of this type of event. For the security of these customers, we are not disclosing further details.
In the brief email statement, Citi did not say how the breach had occurred. Another Citi spokesman, James Griffiths, said the breach had affected 1% of North American card customers, which the bank’s annual report says total 21 million. But like Japanese electronics and entertainment group Sony, which has declared several security breaches of its networks this year, Citi should come under fire for not telling customers sooner about the breach. Spokesman for Australia’s Consumer Action Law Centre, an advocacy group, had this to say:
It may be the bank’s business, but it’s the consumer’s personal information so consumers deserve to be told about security breaches immediately. It’s hard to see any reason why this sort of breach couldn’t have been disclosed much sooner.
The Citi problem is not unique to that company. It appears breaches of this sort by hackers are becoming fairly commonplace. This is a major problem that must be dealt with.
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