Gilmore pledges Government action on data breach

FF leader says faceless criminals can rob hundreds of thousands of people

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: “It is urgent that the Government indicates it has a grip on this issue.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: “It is urgent that the Government indicates it has a grip on this issue.”

Fri, Nov 15, 2013, 01:11

The Government will take whatever steps are necessary to deal with the Loyaltybuild data breach, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.

He said a course of action would be decided when the Government received a report from the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner and the Garda Commissioner.

“Let me be absolutely clear: the unauthorised accessing of people’s credit card details, email addresses, contact details and so on is a criminal act ,” said Mr Gilmore.

He was responding to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who said the hacking into the personal financial data of so many people was a very worrying development.

“Credit card details have patently been compromised and some banks have confirmed that not only was the information hacked into by criminals but also that fraudulent transactions have occurred as a result,” he added.

‘Faceless criminals’
Mr Martin said banking crime was nothing new, but what was now witnessed was faceless criminals who need not resort to armed robberies anymore and who could rob hundreds of thousands of people by breaching data and hacking into various systems.

“It is urgent that the Government indicates it has a grip on this issue,” he added.

Mr Gilmore said it had been revealed that a data breach had occurred at a company, Loyaltybuild, which processed transactions relating to loyalty schemes on behalf of other companies. The Office of the Data Commissioner was considering a preliminary report supplied by an inspection team. It had confirmed that the full card details of more than 376,000 customers, 80,000 of them Irish, were taken. The details of an additional 150,000 clients were potentially compromised, he added.

The inspection team, said Mr Gilmore, had also confirmed that the names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of 1.12 million clients were also taken.

“The initial indications are that these breaches were an external criminal act,’’ he added.

He said a number of recommendations had been made to Loyaltybuild and a follow-up inspection would be carried out.

‘Massive criminal conspiracy’
Mr Martin said he was somewhat disappointed because he did not detect a sense of urgency about the issue from the Government and political leaders.

“This is a massive criminal conspiracy, an event in itself, and has profound consequences for people doing business online, particularly when offering their credit card details,” he added. He suggested the Government form a task force or group involving the Ministers concerned.

“I do not know which Minister will take the lead on the wider issue of cyber crime, but one must take possession of it and the Government should lead,” he said. Mr Martin said that in 2009 some 119 breaches were reported to the Data Protection Commissioner; in 2012, the figure was 1,522.

Mr Gilmore said he would take responsibility to co-ordinate the responses from the different Government ministers so that there was a “whole-of- Government” response to what was a very serious issue in respect of credit card fraud.