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Japanese City Worker Loses USB Containing Resident's Personal Data

The information included the residents’ names, addresses and dates of birth, details of their residence tax payments and bank account.

 

A Japanese city has been compelled to apologise after a contractor admitted to losing a USB memory stick holding the personal data of over 500,000 inhabitants following an alcohol-fueled night out. 

Amagasaki, western Japan, officials claimed the man – an unidentified employee of a private contractor hired to administer Covid-19 compensation payments to local homes – had taken the flash drive from the city's offices to transfer the data to a contact centre in neighbouring Osaka. 

After spending Tuesday evening drinking at a restaurant, he realised on his way home that the bag holding the drive, as well as the personal information of all 460,000 Amagasaki residents, had gone missing. The next morning, he reported the loss to the police. 

According to the Asahi Shimbun, the information contained the residents' names, residences, and dates of birth, as well as data on their residence tax payments and the bank account numbers of those receiving child benefits and other welfare payments. There have been no complaints of data leaks because all of the information is encrypted and password secured. 

“We deeply regret that we have profoundly harmed the public’s trust in the administration of the city,” an Amagasaki official told reporters. The city told in a statement that it would “ensure security management when handling electronic data. We will work to regain our residents’ trust by heightening awareness of the importance of protecting personal information.” 

Not a new affair 

Last month, a man in Abu was handed £279,000/US$343,000 in Covid-19 relief payments meant for 463 low-income people. Local officials said this week that they had recovered all of the money via internet payment services after the individual claimed he had gambled it all away. 

The Amagasaki event highlights worries about some Japanese organisations' ongoing usage of obsolete technologies. According to media reports last week, dozens of businesses and government agencies were rushing to transition away from Internet Explorer before Microsoft retired the browser at midnight on Wednesday. 

According to Nikkei Asia, a sense of "panic" seized businesses and government organisations who were slow to abandon their dependency on IE before Microsoft formally ceased support services, leaving surviving users susceptible to flaws and hacks.
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