Oil giant Shell has been the latest in a long line of high profile businesses to come under scrutiny after hundreds of thousands of pieces of personal data were discovered on the open market online last week.
Telephone numbers, addresses and names of Shell staff were amongst the leaked information. A total of more than 170,000 people are believed to have been exposed by the security breach. Even contractors who had worked for Shell for brief periods were amongst those affected and the impact has been felt on a global scale.
In this instance it appears that there is no fraudulent third party involved, but rather a group of disgruntled Shell employees who took it upon themselves to expose the names of thousands linked to the firm.
The data was sent via email to Greenpeace and other groups of climate change campaigners and eco-activists. According to reports the leak was instigated because the staff responsible were attempting to push through changes to the operational intentions of Shell.
A number of Shell staff have apparently become disaffected by the firm’s involvement in the African nation of Nigeria and as a result they had called for changes in attitude and action within the firm, but to no avail.
Staff from Shell’s UK, US and Dutch operations have put their names to the leaked data, with over 100 people sharing the responsibility in all.
Shell took several days to work out a response and to analyse precisely what type of data had been contained in the leaked document. Eventually, in an attempt to minimise the impact of the news, the firm said that the data was 6 months old and that no personal addresses were contained within it.
Shell went even further and said that the leak was not directly caused by current Shell staff, although other reports appear to contradict this.
John Donovan, who operates a website that is critical of Shell, said that there was a greater need for Shell to properly protect the personal data relating to its employees in order to prevent a recurrence of similar leaks in the future.
Mr Donovan’s site has been the source of much leaked information from within the oil firm in the past, although he said that his site no longer contains the recently leaked copy of the database.