Ubiquitous Australian supermarket chain Woolworths has become the latest casualty of a large-scale technological blunder. After a serious data breach last week, the company was forced to cancel more than $1 million worth of coupon codes. The company accidentally emailed more than 8000 voucher codes to customers of the site, Groupon.
The names and email addresses of code recipients were included in the email, a dramatic and absent-minded breach that may well result in further legal action. More than one thousand recipients used the long list of codes for their own benefit, while many customers found that their codes had been depleted by others. The breach occurred thanks to a mistakenly attached Excel spreadsheet.
In a statement to the media, the company appeared red-faced and embarrassed by the blunder.
“Woolworths takes the concerns of its customers and data security seriously,” the firm wrote. “We experienced a technical fault with an e-voucher offered to customers this week. We are working to resolve the issue and are assisting customers.”
Meanwhile, Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, said that the OAIC had begun its own investigations into the alleged privacy breach.
“We will assess the information provided by Woolworths to determine what further action may be required,” he told the media via a press statement. “If people affected by this incident have any concerns about their personal information, they should contact Woolworths in the first instance. If they are not satisfied with any response they receive they can contact our enquiries line to get more information about how the Privacy Act might apply and how they can make a complaint.”
The cause of $1,308,505 breach was within Woolworth’s own IT team, a fact which the team at GroupOn was quick to point out. With inadvertent leaks and online privcay high on the public watch-list, it seems that the giant retailer will have to face the music, which comes in the form of liability for the serious privacy breach they caused.
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