Health bureau victim of data theft

By Lu Chen Source:Global Times Published: 2012-8-29 22:55:04

Local police have arrested a computer database manager accused of stealing more than 140,000 pieces of personal information about newborn babies and their parents from a Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau database, police announced at a press conference Wednesday.

The suspect, surnamed Zhang, 30 years old, earned 30,000 yuan ($4,727) selling the information while he worked as technical manager for a company that maintained the health bureau's database, according to Yu Song, vice captain of the Zhabei district police's economic crime department.

From the beginning of 2011 until April 2012, Zhang accessed the database twice a month from his home computer, downloading the information that then sold to a manager at Shanghai Roadway D&B Marketing Services Co, the Shanghai subsidiary of the US commercial information firm Dun & Bradstreet Corp.

The local company was shut down in March on charges of illegally trading personal information received from various sources. Police have arrested another 47 suspects who sold stolen personal information to the firm.

Personal information is an alluring target for thieves.

Unlike other products, it can be copied and sold many times to different people, so its seller can profit from it again and again, Yu said.

"The information is very useful to businessmen who are eager to know more about potential clients," he told the Global Times after the press conference.

Police said that the health bureau knows about the investigation and has since prohibited technicians from accessing its database from home.

The bureau has tightened security by requiring employees to accompany technicians while they work on the database, Yu said. Furthermore, technicians can only work from specially authorized computers. "However, many companies still have holes in their security," Yu added.

Many organizations have specific rules for safeguarding their information, but managers often neglect day-to-day enforcement, said Chen Du, vice head of the judicial appraisal center of the Shanghai Computer Trade Association. Some are unable to thoroughly monitor the companies they have hired to maintain their computer systems.

"Thus, information leaks are very difficult to prevent completely, especially when organizations outsource the system maintenance work," Chen told the Global Times.

Posted in: Society, Metro Shanghai

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