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Australia’s Latitude says 7.9 million driver licence numbers stolen in data theft

Digital payments and lending firm Latitude Holdings said on Monday it has determined that 7.9 million Australian and New Zealand driver licence numbers were stolen in a large-scale information theft on March 16.

Apart from the 7.9 million driver licence numbers stolen, the Australian fintech firm also identified about 53,000 passport numbers were stolen and less than 100 customers had a monthly financial statement stolen.

A further 6.1 million records dating back to at least 2005 were also stolen, the Melbourne-based company said, adding that customers who choose to replace their stolen ID document will be reimbursed.

“We are rectifying platforms impacted in the attack and have implemented additional security monitoring as we return to operations in the coming days,” chief executive officer Ahmed Fahour said in a statement.

Latitude stock down 2.5 per cent to A$1.18. Shares have lost about 2.1 per cent since the company reported the incident on March 16.

“Whenever investors hear of a “data breach”, they tend to assume the worst … it seems much of the doom and gloom was priced in two weeks ago when news of the cyber attack first broke,” said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at City Index.

The current level does not make it a strong “buy”, but “investors clearly saw A$1 as a decent level for a punt,” he added.

The firm, which provides consumer finance services to major Australian retailers Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi, alerted last week that it had unearthed further evidence of information theft.

Several Australian firms have reported cyberattacks over the past few months, and experts say this is due to an understaffed cybersecurity industry in the country.

Last year, some of Australia’s largest companies reported data breaches, prompting authorities to step up efforts to bolster cybersecurity and implement stricter data-sharing rules to prevent breaches in the future.

Earlier this month, Latitude took its platform offline and said the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Cyber Security Centre were looking into the attack.

  • Reporting by Navya Mittal in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue, Muralikumar Anantharaman and Sherry Jacob-Phillips, of Reuters.
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