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Report on Business Capital One says hacker gained access to personal information of six million Canadians

A hacker gained access to personal information from more than 100 million Capital One credit applications, including six million from Canada, the bank said Monday as federal authorities arrested a suspect in the case.

Paige A. Thompson – who also goes by the handle “erratic” – was charged with a single count of computer fraud and abuse in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Thompson made an initial appearance in court and was ordered to remain in custody pending a detention hearing Thursday.

The hacker got information including credit scores and balances plus the Social Security numbers of about 140,000 customers in the United States, the bank said. It will offer free credit monitoring services to those affected.

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In Canada, where it provides Mastercard credit cards for Costco Wholesale’s Canadian retail network, Capital One said approximately one million Social Insurance Numbers were compromised in this incident.

Capital One reveals that personal information including names and addresses of about 100 million bank customers in the U.S. and 6 million in Canada were stolen by a hacker who has been arrested. Suspect Paige Thompson is a 33-year-old former software engineer from Seattle. Reuters

The FBI raided Thompson’s residence Monday and seized digital devices. An initial search turned up files that referenced Capital One and “other entities that may have been targets of attempted or actual network intrusions.”

A public defender appointed to represent Thompson did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.

Capital One, based in McLean, Virginia, said Monday it found out about the vulnerability in its system July 19 and immediately sought help from law enforcement to catch the perpetrator.

According to the FBI complaint, someone e-mailed the bank two days before that notifying it that leaked data had appeared on the code-hosting site GitHub, which is owned by Microsoft.

And a month before that, the FBI said, a Twitter user who went by “erratic” sent another user direct messages warning about distributing the bank’s data, including names, birthdates and Social Security numbers. That user later reported the message to Capital One.

“Ive basically strapped myself with a bomb vest, (expletive) dropping capitol ones dox and admitting it,” one said. “I wanna distribute those buckets i think first.”

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Capital One said it believes it is unlikely that the information was used for fraud, but it will continue to investigate. The data breach affected about 100 million people in the U.S. and six million in Canada.

The bank said the bulk of the hacked data consisted of information supplied by consumers and small businesses who applied for credit cards between 2005 and early 2019. In addition to data such as phone numbers, e-mail addresses, dates of birth and self-reported income, the hacker was also able to access credit scores, credit limits and balances, as well as fragments of transaction information from a total of 23 days in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“While I am grateful that the perpetrator has been caught, I am deeply sorry for what has happened,” said Capital One CEO Richard D. Fairbank. “I sincerely apologize for the understandable worry this incident must be causing those affected and I am committed to making it right.”

Capital One Financial Corp., the nation’s seventh-largest commercial bank with $373.6 billion in assets as of June 30, is the latest U.S. company to suffer a major data breach in recent years.

In Canada, Desjardins Group revealed a data breach in June that saw the leak of names, addresses, birthdates, social-insurance numbers and other private information from roughly 2.7 million people and 173,000 businesses.

Desjardins, a Quebec-based co-operative, said a single employee, who has been fired since the breach was detected in December 2018, was responsible. A police investigation into the incident is ongoing.

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In 2017, a data breach at Equifax, one of the major credit reporting companies, exposed the Social Security numbers and other sensitive information of roughly half of the U.S. population and about 19,000 Canadians.

Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner concluded in April that the company fell short of their privacy obligations to Canadians, including poor security safeguards and holding information too long, but it did not level fines.

Last week, Equifax agreed to pay at least $700 million to settle lawsuits over the breach in a settlement with federal authorities and states. The agreement includes up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers.

The average cost of a data breach in the U.S. last year was just under $8 million, according to a study by IBM Security and Ponemon Institute.

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