[ISN] Hackers breach LexisNexis, grab info on 32,000 people

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Thu Mar 10 2005 - 01:07:16 PST


By Paul Roberts
MARCH 09, 2005

Hackers have compromised databases belonging to LexisNexis and stolen
information on at least 32,000 people, according to a statement today
from LexisNexis' parent company, Reed Elsevier PLC.

The hackers stole passwords, names, addresses, Social Security numbers
and driver's license numbers of legitimate customers of the company's
Seisint division. Seisint collects data on individuals that is used by
law enforcement agencies and private companies for debt recovery,
fraud detection and other services.

LexisNexis identified the incidents in a review of security procedures
and warned that there may be more incidents of data theft, Reed
Elsevier said. The incident is eerily familiar to recent revelations
about similar compromises at Seisint competitor ChoicePoint Inc.,
which acknowledged last month that hackers had access to data on
145,000 people (see story).

Reed Elsevier didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

LexisNexis, which acquired Boca Raton, Fla.-based Seisint Inc. in
September for $775 million, expressed regret for the incident and said
it is notifying the individuals whose information may have been
accessed and will provide them with credit-monitoring services.

The company also said it notified law enforcement officials and is
assisting with investigations of the fraudulent account access.

Like ChoicePoint, Seisint maintains a massive database of public and
private information on individuals, including Social Security numbers,
credit histories and criminal records. Seisint made the news in recent
years as the data source behind the Multistate Anti-Terrorism
Information Exchange, or MATRIX, system, a program to bring together
criminal and public records from participating U.S. states.

Bill Shrewsbury, a vice president at Seisint, said that identity
thieves used a different approach to breach the company's database
than what was used to get ChoicePoint's data. But he declined to

LexisNexis said it is taking actions to improve its ID and password
administration security, as well as customer screening.

The incident is the latest in a series of revelations about consumer
data being leaked or lost. Those incidents include the ChoicePoint
compromise and Bank of America Corp.'s disclosure last week that it
lost digital tapes containing the credit card account records of 1.2
million federal employees, including 60 U.S. senators (see story).

ChoicePoint, in Alpharetta, Ga., has also been the focus of intense
scrutiny and criticism since it acknowledged that identity thieves
posed as legitimate customers to gain access to the company's database
of 19 billion public records. Some of the information stolen from
ChoicePoint has since been used in about 750 identity theft scams,
according to the company.

The company said last week that it is discontinuing data sales to many
of its customers, except when that data helps complete a consumer
transaction or helps government or law enforcement.

Since disclosing the security breach, ChoicePoint has been the subject
of a U.S. Federal Trade Commission inquiry into its compliance with
federal information security laws; a U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission investigation into possible insider stock trading
violations by its CEO and chief operating officer (see story); and
lawsuits alleging violations of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act
and California state law.

ChoicePoint disclosed the inquiries in a filing to the SEC on March 4.

Bellua Cyber Security Asia 2005 -

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