Swisscom says paper got four files with internal data (Update)

September 18, 2013 by John Heilprin

Four of Swisscom's internal data files that included employee emails and other information were leaked to a top newspaper in what appears to be a criminal act, the telecommunications company said Wednesday.

Zurich daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung reported that it received the leaked electronic files a few months ago, but said it wasn't clear exactly how they were obtained or where they originated. The newspaper said they took the files, which were difficult to read, to experts to see what they contained.

The files included 600,000 phone numbers and agreements between Swisscom and some of its individual and business clients, the newspaper known as NZZ reported. The newspaper ran a picture of one of the allegedly stolen backup "tapes," which is said were recorded between October 2008 and May 2010, but included emails from 2002 to 2008.

Swisscom, the nation's leading telecom company, said it recovered three of the four files from the newspaper on Tuesday, and that the fourth one "has been returned by NZZ to its source."

The company said it is pursuing criminal charges and doing everything it can to get the fourth file back. A spokesman for the Swiss prosecutor's office confirmed to The Associated Press that it has opened a criminal investigation.

Swisscom said the files contained internal data, but that it wasn't yet clear whether they also contained customer data and it was still analyzing the three returned files.

"It cannot be ruled out at the present time that customer information is stored on the tapes," it said.

A publicly traded company in which the government has the majority stake, Swisscom said it also has launched internal probes and notified the Swiss Federal Data Protection Commissioner. Data protection laws in Switzerland are particularly strict.

"Swisscom is doing its utmost to clarify the incident as fast as possible. It is currently assumed that it was motivated by criminal intent," the company said.

The company said the type of "data carriers" that were apparently stolen have not been used by Swisscom since last year.

"Swisscom has extremely stringent regulations governing the secure and sustainable disposal of such data carriers," it said. "Data carriers are transported in a convoy with two escort vehicles before they are destroyed (shredded). External partner companies are also involved in this process."

The company says it now mostly stores its data on hard disks, which are demagnetized—and the data deleted—before they are disposed of.

Explore further: Motorola accuses ex-CFO of destroying evidence

Related Stories

Fate of data held by Megaupload up in the air

April 13, 2012

(AP) -- A judge has ordered further negotiations on what should be done with millions of data files that were removed from the Internet when federal investigators shut down one of the world's largest filesharing sites.

Report: Bloomberg private messages leaked online

May 13, 2013

(AP)—A published report says financial data and news service Bloomberg accidently leaked online more than 10,000 private messages containing sensitive pricing data exchanged by users of Bloomberg's financial information ...

Recommended for you

Customizing 3-D printing

September 3, 2015

The technology behind 3-D printing is growing more and more common, but the ability to create designs for it is not. Any but the simplest designs require expertise with computer-aided design (CAD) applications, and even for ...

Team develops targeted drug delivery to lung

September 2, 2015

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have developed a new method that can target delivery of very small volumes of drugs into the lung. Their approach, in which micro-liters ...

Magnetic fields provide a new way to communicate wirelessly

September 1, 2015

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.