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Hong Kong’s Companies Registry leaked the personal data of 110,000 people.

06/05/2024
An investigation into Hong Kong’s Companies Registry revealed that the online portal leaked personal data of 110,000 people, including names, passport and identity card numbers, and residential addresses. It was the third reported public body security breach in a week, and accountancy sector lawmaker Edmund Wong Chun-sek called it “truly a serious mistake”.

The registry said telephone numbers and email addresses were also disclosed, and it had started notifying victims with explanations and apologies. A spokesman said.

  • “The Companies Registry is very concerned about the risk of personal data leakage,”

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, upon learning about the vast scope of people affected, immediately launched an investigation. As of Friday, the watchdog had not received any inquiries or complaints regarding the incident. The spokesman stressed the importance of individual vigilance, urging those affected to change their online account passwords, activate multi-factor authentication functions, be wary of unusual logins, and review their bank statements for any unauthorized transactions. This proactive approach is crucial in safeguarding personal data in the digital age.

Lawmaker Wong has also called on the registry to review all existing systems and comprehensively eliminate possible loopholes.

The breach at the registry followed an announcement earlier in the day by the privacy watchdog that it would investigate a security failure of the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department. The personal information of 17,000 residents collected during the COVID-19 pandemic, including names, telephone numbers, ID numbers and addresses, was leaked due to an error in a government department’s password login system.

The department collected data during “restriction-testing declaration” operations between March and July of 2022. On Thursday, the office revealed that the Consumer Council breached privacy rules when the personal information of more than 470 people was leaked in a cybersecurity attack.

The office said hackers managed to obtain access to an administrator account belonging to the council’s IT staff on September 4 last year and used the account to carry out various malicious activities weeks later while trying to force the watchdog to pay a ransom of US$500,000.

Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat, the chairwoman of the Legislative Council’s information technology and broadcasting panel, said the back-to-back occurrences revealed serious issues with cybersecurity within government departments. She also urged authorities to conduct security breach drills to boost awareness and response capabilities among the civil service.

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