AT&T warns 1,600 customers of data breach

An employee failed to follow the company's privacy policy and obtained some customer information, AT&T says.

Approximately 1,600 AT&T customers were affected by the data breach. AT&T/CNET

AT&T has fallen victim to a data breach after an employee allegedly broke the company's privacy policy, AT&T confirmed to CNET.

AT&T has started to send out letters to Vermont-based customers informing them of the data breach, a letter posted to the Vermont government's website indicates. The letter claims that an employee violated the company's privacy policy in August and obtained customer data, including social security numbers and driver's license numbers. Approximately 1,600 people in the area were affected by the breach.

"We take our customers' privacy very seriously and value the trust they have in us," AT&T told CNET in an emailed statement on Tuesday. "Unfortunately, we recently learned that one of our employees did not follow our strict privacy rules and inappropriately obtained some customer information. This individual no longer works at AT&T and we are directly contacting the limited number of affected customers."

The theft of private customer data is nothing new. Over the last few years, several major companies have suffered massive data breaches that have left customers' personal information exposed. In 2013, a hack of Target's in-store point-of-sale systems resulted in the theft of personal information on as many as 110 million customers, and in 2011, a hacker stole the personal information of more than 70 million users of Sony's PlayStation Network. In comparison, the AT&T data breach is relatively small and allegedly due to an employee violating corporate policy.

Whatever the case, it's not clear why the employee allegedly stole the information or whether it will be used for illegal means. AT&T publicly apologized for incident and said it contacted law enforcement. The carrier also recommended customers place a fraud alert on their accounts. AT&T is not revealing any additional information about the data breach.

(Via Reuters)

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