National

Major Japanese firms fall victim to data leaks: survey

Kyodo

Some of the nation’s major firms have reported being victims of data leaks over the past five years either because of cyberattacks or as former employees and others willfully took company data out with them, a Kyodo News survey showed Saturday.

The survey, which followed the nation’s biggest-ever data theft at educational service provider Benesse Holdings Inc., points to the risk of data leaks major Japanese firms face today, with the potential for damage to fair competition among companies and for putting the privacy of many customers at risk.

A former chief of the Japan Patent Office said more companies could have fallen victim to similar data leaks, calling for companies to look thoroughly into the possibility that they too have had their data compromised.

The survey was conducted in March on 100 companies with cutting-edge technology or large customer data. Ten of the 62 companies that responded to the survey reported having had their corporate data leaked over the past five years.

The names of the 10 companies are being withheld because they requested anonymity.

Of the 10 firms, five, including an infrastructure-related company and a manufacturer, said their data were leaked because of cyberattacks. The infrastructure company said it has yet to determine who perpetrated the attack on it, while the manufacturer suspects the involvement of a public entity abroad.

Of the same 10 companies, five blamed their data leaks solely on people involved in their work, such as former employees and contractors.

One firm cited both a cyberattack and a person taking data with them as the causes of its data leaks.

To prevent the kind of data leaks found in the survey, all the respondents said they have limited access to certain information. Many of the firms have put people in charge of security or banned employees and others from leaving offices with their computers and notebooks.

Last year Benesse was found to have had the personal information of its roughly 40 million customers leaked by a systems engineer, dealing a serious blow to its reputation and earnings.