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Source: Toronto Star

Posted on June 8, 2001

      Lucent Technologies Canada got caught with its pants down yesterday after a visitor to the company's corporate Web site stumbled on to the personal files of hundreds of customers.

      The company spared little time in removing the files, which included the names, e-mail addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers and job titles of Canadian customers and consultants.

      The site was temporarily taken down yesterday and forwarded to the Web site of parent Lucent Technologies Inc., based in Murray Hill, N.J., and one of the world's largest suppliers of telecommunications equipment.

      ``We investigated the matter, we found a quirk and we fixed it,'' said Jon Cheek, a spokesperson for Lucent's Canadian operations, based in Toronto. ``We take the confidentiality of our records with customers very seriously.''

      For Lucent competitors, the data represented a valuable source of competitive intelligence, offering a quick glimpse of the company's Canadian customers and key contact information for purchasers at each organization.

      The files were found by a technology professional who was searching Lucent's Web site for a friend currently employed by the company. After the person typed in the search term, three files full of customer information appeared.

      ``I said to myself, `This isn't normal,' '' said the source, who asked not to be named.

      Cheek said the information appeared to be data from people who registered online for company events. Once collected, the data were probably kept on the Web server rather than on an offline internal server.

      Michael Erdle, a privacy and Internet lawyer with Deeth Williams Wall LLP in Toronto, said companies have a responsibility to customers to take the steps to keep their data secure.

      ``People who don't take those steps are really being careless,'' he said. ``You don't end up trusting them.''

      This isn't the first time a Canadian company has left a door unlocked on a corporate Web site.

      Last year, wireless service provider Look Communications Inc. accidently exposed hundreds of customer files on the Internet.

      A year earlier, a similar data snafu, this time affecting several thousand consumers, was found on the Web site run by Air Miles.

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