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Reed Elsevier suffers major security breach

Less than two weeks after Bank of America's personal and financial information leak, Reed Elsevier confirms LexisNexis suffered a security breach affecting 32,000 customers.

For the second time in less than two weeks, a multinational company has announced a security breach concerning personal customer information.

On the heels of Bank of America's recent loss of backup tapes containing personal and financial information for 1.2 million customers, publishing giant Reed Elsevier announced Wednesday that LexisNexis, the company's information service, has reported a number of incidents of potentially fraudulent access to information for approximately 32,000 individuals.

The breach, which occurred at LexisNexis' Boca Raton, Fla.-based Seisint unit, was found after a customer's billing complaint led to the discovery that an identity and password had been stolen. The information accessed included names, addresses, Social Security and driver's license numbers.

Reuters reported Wednesday that the breach allegedly arose from the misappropriation by third-parties of IDs and passwords from legitimate customers.

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Reed Elsevier said it is contacting the 32,000 people affected and is offering them credit monitoring and other support to detect any identity theft. In addition, the company has notified law enforcement authorities and is proactively assisting in law enforcement investigations, which, according to Reuters, will include the FBI and the Secret Service arm of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Credit history, medical records or financial information were not affected, the company said.

ChoicePoint Inc., a chief rival of Seisint in the personal data sales space, announced on March 4 that the company would discontinue the sale of information that contains sensitive consumer data, including Social Security and driver's license numbers, unless there is a specific consumer-driven transaction or benefit, or where the information supports criminal justice purposes.

The move followed the theft of information of about 145,000 of its customers last month. According to a statement from ChoicePoint CEO Derek V. Smith, the recent fraud activity, as well as concerns voiced by consumers, played a major role in the company's decision.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Luke Meredith, News Writer

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