In an unusually detailed view of what companies may be up against as they try to manage the burgeoning risk of data theft, The Mail  is reporting that thousands of customer data files were stolen from Barclays and sold to rogue traders operating in London’s financial district.

Thanking the U.K. newspaper for bringing its attention to the breach, Barclays indicated that it is investigating the situation and contacted the nation’s Information Commissioner’s Office and other regulators as soon as it learned of the theft. Although it’s unclear how the records were stolen, Barclays could face “an unlimited fine” if it’s found guilty of putting customer data at risk, according to The Mail.

USB Stick Man in a Sleeping Bag

The breach was revealed by an anonymous whistleblower, who passed on a memory stick containing files on 2,000 of the bank’s customers to The Mail, according to the newspaper. The whistleblower claimed that the files were a sample of a stolen database of up to 27,000 records. The files could be sold by criminals for up to £50 ($82) per file, he said.

“Under the guidance of lawyers, this newspaper has viewed a small selection of the files, which are effectively stolen goods. Each report is about 20 pages long, and among the victims are doctors, businessmen, scientists, a musician and a cleaner,” The Mail reported.

The whistleblower reportedly told the newspaper: “[T]he data is a gold mine for traders because it is so incredibly detailed. It gets them inside the customer’s head.”

Photo credit: Caro’s Lines, via Flickr

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