The leak surrounding the Netherlands’ coronavirus track and trace program leads to the theft of people’s personal data, amid curfew riots
Personal data has been stolen from a large number of people who participated in the Netherlands’ coronavirus track and trace program.
News that the data had been leaked was confirmed by the Dutch health authorities (GGD) on Friday, Reuters reported.
The GGD confirmed a media report that data had been stolen and apologized for what it said were two separate leaks.
The bad news is that according to the official statement, the authorities did not know how many people were affected by the theft of data, but they warned that it could be by the thousands.
The leak was first reported by Dutch broadcaster RTL, and the GGD later confirmed the leaks, which included names and addresses.
But far worse is the fact that the leak also reportedly included social security numbers, phone numbers, and even test results.
According to the GGD, the data breaches were from its central track and trace system, and not from the smartphone app, which has been closely scrutinized for potential privacy weaknesses.
And there seems to be an internal work element here.
Reuters reported that in one case, GGD employees attacked the personal information of a small number of prominent individuals. In the other case, a full set of data was leaked and offered for sale online, although it was unclear if anyone bought the data.
“If people with malicious intent take data out of a system on purpose, it is almost impossible to stop,” according to reports, the GGD.
The GGD acknowledged that people may now be reluctant to participate in its track and trace program due to the leak, but said it would do everything possible to restore public trust.
“We are working closely with the police, justice and data and cybercrime specialists,” he added. “People who have crossed the line will simply be fired, and weaknesses in our security will be identified and strengthened.”
News of the leak could not have come at a worse time for Dutch authorities, after the entire Dutch government resigned in mid-January over a child welfare fraud scandal.
The Netherlands has been rocked by violent protests over the government’s decision to impose a nightly curfew, in addition to a months-long lockdown, in an effort to try to control the pandemic.
The Dutch government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte is also being criticized because the Netherlands was the last of the European Union countries to start vaccination against Cororavirus.