A Treasure Trove For Hackers

Forensics experts at the Dublin office of consultancy Ernst & Young have found evidence that prominent companies in Ireland are allowing home-based employees to download sensitive company and client data to their personal computers.

Second-hand computer hard drives containing sensitive information – including hundreds of customer bank, Laser and credit-card account details, car registration information, staff PPS numbers, internal corporate information and e-mail details – were purchased on Irish auction website eBay.ie from owners who, in most cases, had not even bothered to erase the drives.


Of eight disks purchased on eBay, only three had been erased by the owner. Typical of what was found on the disks:

A brand-name online payments company (disk purchased for €5.79 including P&P). Information recovered:

  • Technical files relating to a popular bill payment solution which included technical specification documents and consultancy firm reports in relation to the bill payment solution;
  • PPS numbers of staff and customers;
  • Hundreds of customer bank account numbers and sort codes;
  • Hundreds of Laser card numbers and expiry dates;
  • Hundreds of credit card numbers and names;
  • Significant amount of e-mails detailing customer data;
  • Internal corporate information, staff details etc.

A well-known Irish car dealership (disk purchased for €10.79 including P&P). Hard disk for sale on ebay.ie with comment in ad: “Used to be in a Dell computer but I removed it. I didn’t bother deleting the files off it but this can be easily done.” Information recovered:

  • Bank account numbers;
  • Customer names and addresses;
  • Customer invoices and bank details;
  • Customer car registration information.

Read more in The Irish Times.

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