The personal mobile phone account of US President-elect Barack Obama was viewed by a number of Verizon Wireless employees.
Verizon Wireless president and CEO, Lowell McAdam said in a statement the staff accessed Obama's personal mobile phone account without authorisation. Despite the account being inactive for several months, Verizon is currently investigating the breach and all employees who accessed the account – authorised or not – were placed on immediate paid leave.
The mobile device was a voice flip-phone, not a BlackBerry or other smartphone designed for email or other data services according to McAdam.
McAdam said in the statement: “As the circumstances of each individual employee's access to the account are determined, the company will take appropriate actions. Employees with legitimate business needs for access will be returned to their positions, while employees who have accessed the account improperly and without legitimate business justification will face appropriate disciplinary action.
“We apologise to President-Elect Obama and will work to keep the trust our customers place in us every day.”
Geoff Hogan, senior vice president of business development and product management for authentication provider Imprivata, told SCMagazineUS.com that this was a classic case of the internal threat facing many businesses. He said the breach was probably curiosity-driven because it occurred within the telecommunications industry, and if the breach had occurred in the banking industry, the motivation would have likely been more nefarious.