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Eircom criticised by DPC over slow reporting of laptop data breach

Bank account details of some 550 customers may be at risk as Eircom has only now revealed a data breach that occurred last year.

Image: eszter via Flickr

Updated 9.15am

EIRCOM HAS BEEN criticised by the Data Protection Commissioner over its slow reporting of the compromising of nearly 7,000 eMobile and Meteor customers’ data.

A total of 6,845 customers have been affected after two Eircom laptops containing their personal data were stolen last December. The bank details of 550 customers may be at risk, the company has said.

The telecoms company is only now revealing the data breach and says it is writing to affected customers today to inform them.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, Billy Hawkes said that it was “very surprising” that it had taken so long between the theft occurring and customers and the DPC being informed.

He said that in normal instances it would take between 24 and 48 hours for his office to be informed of such a breach.

Two laptops were stolen over the Christmas period from Eircom’s offices in Parkwest in Dublin with the details of 6,441 current and previous eMobile business customers dating from August 2010 to December 2011 on them including names, addresses, and phone numbers.

In 146 cases, customers’ financial data including bank account details may be at risk. There is also a similar risk for 404 Meteor post-pay customers who applied online in the first six months of 2011.

Identifying documents such as passports or drivers licence details, photo IDs or utility bills were also included and in some cases bank account, Laser card or credit card details are also at risk for these 550 customers.

The company’s head of communications Paul Bradley earlier told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the incident was “extremely regrettable” and said that so far there was “no evidence of fraud”.

The Data Protection Commissioner and the Irish Banking Federation have been informed.

He did not definitively state whether or not customers would be compensated in cases where fraud may occur. He said if that issue arises “we will engage with customers and work with them to resolve that matter”.

While Eircom has an encryption policy for its laptops it is understood none of the three stolen laptops were encrypted. Bradley said this incident “shouldn’t preclude employees working in a flexible matter” in being able to bring laptops home with them.

In a separate incident another laptop was stolen from an employee’s home in December with the names and addresses of 686 Meteor employees contained on the laptop. Employees have been notified.

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Hugh O'Connell

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