By Lucas Mearian
DECEMBER 20, 2005
ABN Amro Mortgage Group Inc. has decided it will no longer send data
tapes to its credit reporting bureaus after one of those tapes -- with
the private information of more than 2 million customers on it -- went
missing a month ago (see "Update: Missing ABN Amro tape with 2 million
names found" ).
Instead, according to ABN Amro Mortgage Group CEO Thomas Goldstein,
the company will encrypt data and send it over secure networks when
possible. Otherwise, it will use special couriers in an effort to
avoid another tape loss.
Those changes were announced on the same day the company said it had
located the missing tape containing sensitive data about residential
mortgage customers, which was lost Nov. 18 while being transported by
a delivery service to a credit reporting company. The tape was found
yesterday, three days after the company began notifying customers that
it had been lost.
On Friday, ABN Amro told customers that the tape was lost while being
transported by DHL Worldwide Express delivery service from a data
center run by a subsidiary of LaSalle Bank Corp. in Chicago to an
Experian Information Solutions Inc. credit bureau facility in Allen,
Texas. The tape contained the names, account information, payment
histories and social security numbers for residential mortgage
customers, according to the letter ABN Amro sent customers last week.
Goldstein said during today.s press conference that the search for the
tape by ABN Amro, DHL and Experian was "exhaustive," and ended last
week, at which time they decided to notify customers. Goldstein said
the tape was then found yesterday. He also said there is still no
evidence that the data was misused while it was missing, but he said
there.s no way to prove the tape wasn't read or copied while it was
Goldstein said that the package containing the missing tape was found
in its original sealed container by a DHL employee without the
original air bill and that DHL then readdressed the package back to
Despite the tape's recovery, the problems for ABN Amro didn't end
today. A gift code given to customers whose information was
temporarily lost to allow them to sign up for a free credit monitoring
service overwhelmed a Web site run by credit reporting agency Trans
Union LLC. ABN Amro said initially that it would enroll those
customers in the credit monitoring service for 90 days at no cost.
That time frame was extended to year today.
Tens of thousands have already registered with Trans Union today, but
"2.1 million letters going out has overwhelmed the [Trans Union] Web
site," Goldstein said. "I feel terrible about the frustration our
customers are having on top of just getting this notification. TU and
we are working together to fix this".
He said Trans Union is adding a "gateway" device to limit access to
the service and notify customers when they can sign up.
As for the plans to transfer data electronically rather than by
courier, Goldstein said ABN Amro has completed about 70% of a rollout
of a secure data network to move data to its credit-reporting bureaus.
"The goal starting last spring was to eliminate all physical handling
of tapes -- and any tape where we cannot eliminate the physical
handling because the other party cannot receive [the electronic data]
will go by special courier," Goldstein said. He cited FedEx Corp. as
one company ABN Amro might use.
"The tape in question was to be transferred fully electronically and
encrypted this month. One of the really upsetting things about this is
one more month, and this couldn't have happened," Goldstein said.
ABN Amro plans to continue to use DHL to ship other packages.
Earn your Master's degree in Information Security ONLINE
Study IA management practices and the latest infosec issues.
Norwich University is an NSA Center of Excellence.