"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.