Accidental G20 breach exposed world leaders' personal data

News by Ava Fedorov

An accidental data breach by G20 organisers discovered early on Monday resulted in the leak of personal details, including passport numbers and visa details of a number of world leaders.

Though the leak occurred five months ago in November 2014, when the sensitive data was accidentally sent to a third party, Australian authorities aware of the breach, did not disclose the incident to those affected, who include David Cameron and US president Barack Obama. The breach, which was due to a failure to check the “autofill” function in Microsoft Outlook, draws attention to the fact that ninety-three percent of data breaches are currently caused by human error. 

"This is a shocking breach in security that should have been disclosed immediately – however it's actually a very common mistake,” Tony Pepper, CEO of Egress Software Technologies, commented in an email to “‘Autofill' options when entering a recipient's details create a wide margin for human error when sharing confidential information by email.”

“However, this is no longer an acceptable excuse, particularly when sharing such highly sensitive information.”

Sue Trombley, managing director of professional services at Iron Mountain, echoed his sentiments: “This breach is another example of human error and underscores the need for employees to be aware that even the simplest of administrative tasks can prove most costly to the organisation in terms of reputation.”

“In many ways, it's about respecting the value that your organisation's information holds and fostering an organisation-wide culture that understands and protects that value,” she told SC.


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