Herndon (DBA) – New problem for Volkswagen in North America: Data from more than 3.3 million people have been insecure on the Internet for more than a year due to the breakdown of a business partner. A spokesman for the company said Friday that VW expects customers and prospective buyers of the Audi subsidiary to be affected, according to current knowledge. The American blog “TechCrunch” previously reported a data leak and published a letter to clients and a lawyer’s letter.
According to VW, most data is contact information only. This area of the leak has names, email addresses, telephone and in some cases about 3.1 million Audi customers in the United States and 163,000 in Canada and 3300 VW customers in the United States. However, most confidential data from about 90,000 Audi customers is also insecure. About 95 percent of these cases involve driving license numbers, but a small proportion contain important information such as US Social Security and bank account numbers.
An international law firm wrote letters to the Attorney General in the United States on June 10 on behalf of Volkswagen and Audi, stating that it had limited access to unauthorized third-party customer data. VW directed judicial officers and hired external data analysis and cyber security experts. The leaked information was therefore collected by a business partner between 2014 and 2019 for sales and marketing purposes.
According to a VW spokesman, letters written by prosecutors to public prosecutor’s offices are simply a formal step that companies in the United States are forced to take in the event of a customer data leak. This is an effective measure that will not give any indication of an investigation by the judicial authorities. Volkswagen initially did not provide any information on who the business partner who committed the data breach was, and did not want to comment on the possible consequences for the company when asked.
VW has been in a difficult position in North America for many years due to the “dieselgate” scandal discovered by U.S. environmental officials in September 2015. Massive handling of exhaust gas measurements has severely damaged the company’s image and once sales figures in the United States have plummeted. VW did more to improve its reputation and regain the trust of American customers. Most recently, business has been running smoothly again, with VW’s U.S. sales up 21 percent in the first quarter.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210611-99-957728 / 3