The admission by News Corp Australia today that a vulnerability had been discovered in its subscriber data systems is a reminder of the risk of centrally managed data banks.
For decades newsagents held subscriber data at the local business level and it is only in recent years that the newspaper publishers have sought to centralise this. While there were significant benefits for News, at the time of centralisation there was considerable concern by newsagents and some of their customers about the risk of unauthorised access to the data.
I recall one newsagent lost newspaper home delivery customers because of the centralisation of their data. One customer, a barrister, said they trusted the newsagent and their systems more than they trusted a publisher.
Today’s announcement by News could serve as vindication of concerns expressed at the time even though this breach relates to newsletter subscriber details.
Any company holding customer data needs to take the security of the data seriously. The greater the centralisation of data the greater the risk and the more valuable the reward for those who trade in data.
For a more complete report on what happened check out the report published by The Age.