Barclays Data Breach Makes Target Look Tame

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Barclays (BCS) had better come clean about how it managed to lose so much intimate customer data and how it will avoid doing so again, because the Mail on Sunday's weekend report is actually quite scary.

The Mail in a report on Saturday that was updated early Monday, said "rogue City traders" had been able to purchase up to 27,000 Barclays customer data files. What makes this different from other recent corporate breaches of customer data is the level of detail included in the files.

Barclays said the data was collected from customers of its Barclays Financial Planning unit, which was closed during 2011. That unit used questionnaires to collect details on many aspects of customers' lives, including their earnings, bank account information, loans, medical information, insurance policies, passport numbers and national insurance numbers. Combined with customers' names and addresses, it would appear that people buying this information have everything from soup to nuts on these customers.

And that is sickening.

It also seems strange that so many customers, or potential customers, of Barclays Financial Planning would trust a complete stranger sufficiently that they would write down so much intimate personal information. It seems quite unnecessary for your financial planner to have your national insurance number, for example.

The Mail said an "anonymous whistleblower" had provided it with "a memory stick containing files on 2,000 of the bank's customers." That highlights questionable motivations of the whistlebower, who provided so much stolen information to the newspaper. Wouldn't, say, five rows of data have been enough for the Mail to break the story?

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