Hackers put NZ information at risk

SHABNAM DASTGHEIB
Last updated 05:00 28/12/2011
computer hacker
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INVASION OF PRIVACY: The personal details of more than 100,000 individuals and companies may be exposed by the data breach.

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A data breach at a private American intelligence company has put the credit card information and personal details of several New Zealand companies and government agencies at risk.

United States-based Stratfor is a think tank that provides reports and analysis of international affairs and security threats. Its subscribers include Apple, the US Air Force and the Miami Police Department.

New Zealand-based clients include the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Air New Zealand, the New Zealand Police and Fire Service, ANZ and BNZ banks.

A hacking movement known as "Anonymous" has claimed responsibility for stealing credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to the company's clients.

Personal information has been posted online and linked to Twitter. More than 100,000 individuals and companies may be exposed, according to the Associated Press.

Hackers have reportedly taken money from individuals' accounts to donate as Christmas presents and some people have confirmed unauthorised activity on their credit cards.

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet spokesman Maarten Wevers said the department would expect Stratfor to improve security and would be keeping an eye on its account.

There had not been any unauthorised activity so far and Mr Wevers understood breaches were limited to individuals. "I'm sure they are working very hard to make sure security is not breached.

"I can't imagine we will stop buying them.

"They are an expert think tank and their views are of interest to a lot of people," he said.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the airline had received advice from Stratfor in the past regarding global security issues but no customer data was at risk and no unauthorised transactions had occurred.

A spokesperson for ANZ New Zealand said: "We are confident that no customer data or credit card information has been compromised as a result of our relationship with Stratfor."

Other companies and government agencies could not be reached for a response yesterday.

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