SHARE
COPY LINK

CRIME

Huge security breach for German credit cards

Detailed and sensitive bank information of tens of thousands of German credit card customers have been stolen in what investigators have described as the worst ever case of data theft in the country.

Huge security breach for German credit cards
Photo:DPA

Microfilm containing the extensive data was sent to the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper anonymously in the post, causing investigators to question the security procedures of the bank concerned.

The data was simply sent in a cardboard box, addressed to the editorial office. When they opened it, journalists found a mess of open envelopes containing secret numbers and other data, and pieces of microfilm – prompting them to scramble for strong magnifying glasses to read what was there.

Not only the account numbers but also credit card details such as PIN numbers and details of payments were among the stolen data.

And although the data was from the Landesbank Berlin, because it is the country’s biggest issuer of credit cards, customers from all sorts of institutions up and down the country have been affected.

The paper says it has details of credit card bills detailing full names of the customers, addresses, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and every payment and transfer.

The data is from this year, it says, with purchases dating from as recently as August.

People holding the following credit cards are among those affected – Amazon Visa, White Lable Premium, various ADAC visa and master cards, LBB cards and even the Xbox classic card.

“This is a scandal of considerable scale,” Alexander Dix, the Berlin state data security representative. “The investigating authorities must act.” He said the idea of sending packages of microfilm in the post was particularly odd, he added. “That is a method of data storage which belongs to the last century.”

A spokesman for his federal counterpart Peter Schaar told the paper, “The diversity and actuality of the data is unimaginable. I would not have considered such a thing to be possible.”

The question was also raised of where else the data might have been sent. “It is possible that the same packet could have been offered for sale,” the spokesman said.

He also said it was surprising that the Landesbank stored such material on microfilm “This is a very strange thing. It does not meet the latest security standards.”

The Landesbank Berlin works with the financial services provider Atos Worldline to administer the credit cards. The cardboard box also included a bill for €71,400 – from Atos to the Landesbank.

Hundreds of thousands of credit card bills are moved between the Landesbank and Atos but, as the Frankfurter Rundschau described it, “This time something went wrong.”

It said both companies were taken by surprise when contacted by reporters and vowed to investigate immediately.

CRIME

German police probe fatal knife attack on schoolgirl

Police were on Tuesday investigating a motive behind the fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old girl on her way to school in Baden-Württemberg in a case that made national headlines.

German police probe fatal knife attack on schoolgirl

According to police, a 27-year-old man attacked two girls on the street with a knife as they walked to school Monday morning in the small town of Illerkirchberg near Ulm.

The victim, a German girl with a Turkish family background, was revived at the scene but later died in hospital, police said.

A 13-year-old girl was also hurt in the incident but did not suffer
life-threatening injuries.

Police apprehended the suspect at “nearby asylum seekers’ accommodation”, they said.

The alleged aggressor was injured when he was stopped by police and was taken to receive medical treatment. He was currently being held in hospital under guard.

Google Maps shows the town of Illerkirchberg, which has a little over 5,000 residents, and sits on the border with Bavaria.

“We will fully investigate this terrible act,” announced Thomas Strobl, Baden-Württemberg’s Interior Minister on Monday. “We are deeply affected…when the life of an innocent child is so brutally taken.”

The crime has taken on a political dimension because the suspect is an asylum seeker from Eritrea. Several politicians from Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) used the crime to question the country’s immigration policies. 

In the statement, a police spokesperson asked people “not to harbour general suspicions against strangers, or asylum seekers in general, or to encourage or support such suspicions.”

She said she was aware “that events of this kind stir up fears and emotions.”

The Turkish ambassador to Germany, Ahmet Basar Sen, was set to visit the scene of the crime Tuesday with  Strobl, and the mayor of Illerkirchberg.

“I mourn the girl who was killed and sincerely hope that the injured girl will recover,” Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser posted on Twitter Monday.

“The police are urgently investigating the background” of the attack, she said.

SHOW COMMENTS