Benesse struggling to deal with massive theft of private customer data
Education service provider Benesse Corporation is under fire after a large amount of customer data was stolen from the company’s private data banks. Since the news broke last week, the company has been struggling to identify the scope of the problem and how it occurred.
Benesse says that a part-time employee of a subcontractor with access to its database copied the names and addresses of at least 7.6 million customers, including info on children. The employee, who has not been publicly identified, is believed to have sold the info to advertising and other companies.
Benesse said its affiliate company Synform Co oversaw its database operations. However, it has now been learned that Synform outsourced some of its business to other companies, TBS reported. Police, who are investigating the leak as a case of data theft, said a systems engineer at one of the firms outsourced by Synform has admitted copying the data but claimed he had no idea it was Benesse data he was giving away.
Police said that the systems engineer was given the job at the end of last year and it was at that time that he began copying large amounts of private customer data through the end of January with the intention of selling it, TBS reported.
Police said the stolen data was sold at least twice before ending up with Tokushima company JustSystems Corp which used it to send ads to Benesse customers.
A JustSystems spokesman told a news conference that the firm was unaware it was buying stolen data and said it would erase the information from its database. However, Benesse has asked JustSystems not to do so, saying that data erasure will hamper its investigation into the trail of the stolen data.