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Email autofill mistake sees G20 leaders' personal info leaked

By Scorpus
Mar 30, 2015
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  1. A serious mistake involving Microsoft Outlook's email address autofill feature lead to the personal information of many world leaders ending up in the hands of the Asian Cup football tournament's organizers.

    According to an email obtained by The Guardian, the mistake occurred ahead of last year's G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia. In what was purely human error, an employee of Australia's visa services division failed to check if an important email's 'to' field included the right recipient after an address was autofilled by Outlook.

    The error lead to the information of world leaders attending the summit, including their passport numbers, visa details and other personal information, being sent to the Asian Cup Local Organizing Committee. Despite the potential severity of the error, the affected leaders weren't informed of the breach when it was discovered.

    The visa services division director felt it wasn't necessary to inform the leaders, as apparently the division had taken several steps to "limit further distribution of the email". This included asking the Asian Cup organizers to delete the email, and assure them that it wasn't forwarded to anyone else or copied to a backup.

    Luckily for the leaders in question, it's unlikely that any of the leaked information would have been useful to criminals, especially as a lot of it was already publicly available. However it just goes to show how a simple error such as forgetting to check an autofilled email can lead to a breach of personal information.

    The breach also doesn't instill much confidence in Australian officials, who have just proven that they can't keep the personal information of world leaders safe, and aren't willing to inform them when a breach has occurred. With controversial mandatory data retention laws having recently passed through the country's parliament, it's no wonder many citizens are worrying about their privacy.

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  2. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,555   +2,361

    "The breach also doesn't instill much confidence in Australian officials, who have just proven that they can't keep the personal information of world leaders safe, and aren't willing to inform them when a breach has occurred."

    Not such a big deal considering the other breaches that have occurred in recent years. This sounds pretty much par for gov't slip ups anyways.

    At least it wasn't a Greek contractor/spy who got ahold of a secret financial network intended to syphon money from German banks. That really could have been bad.
     
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  3. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus TS Evangelist Posts: 1,657   +309

    Autofill?!? Saves minutes, can cost years. Should be 'off' by default.
     
  4. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,505   +2,055

    Why pick on the Australian officials? Granted, this happened in their country but it would've happened anywhere in the world. Most government officials no matter where or who they serve tend to be ineffective.
     

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