________________________________________________________________________ Data is leaked from Japanese bank's computer system Copyright ) 1998 Nando.net Copyright ) 1998 The Associated Press TOKYO (January 5, 1998 5:30 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) -- A company hired by a major Japanese bank to write a software program is under investigation for allegedly stealing sensitive information on about 20,000 of the bank's customers, police said Monday. An employee with the software company allegedly approached a Tokyo-based mailing-list firm in November about a possible sale of the data. But that firm, which sells information to corporations planning direct-mail campaigns, alerted Sakura Bank, saying the data on the bank's depositors was "too detailed." Tokyo police were questioning officials from the software company, which has not been named, to determine whether the employee stole the data from the very computer system he was hired to improve, police sources said. The disk and other materials allegedly offered for sale included assorted financial data on 19,900 Sakura's customers, including the status of any loans they had taken out and details on their family budgets. Bank spokesman Nobuo Iwata said the data could not have been leaked by Sakura employees. He did not elaborate. After learning of the security breech, Sakura took action to prevent the software company from gaining access to additional customer data, he said. Sakura Information Systems Co., an affiliate of the bank, had hired the computer company to develop software that would speed up data retrieval. The company, which police sources said is affiliated with a major trading house, subcontracted the assignment to another firm, which told police the data was leaked sometime between Nov. 2 and 8. Police did not identify the subcontractor. Police are looking into the possibility that employees with the subcontractor may have taken the data or that an outsider could have hacked into the subcontractor's computer system, according to sources. Sakura Bank is one of the world's largest and has 14.5 million individual savings accounts -- tops among Japanese banks.
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