A large-scale data breach has affected one of Volkswagen’s vendors, exposing personal details of 3.3 million customers. The vendor left one of its systems open for two years, between August 2019 and May 2021.
Volkswagen Data Breach: What Happened?
“On March 10, 2021, VWGoA was alerted that an unauthorized third party may have obtained certain customer information. VWGoA immediately commenced an investigation to determine the nature and scope of this event,” the official letter to the Attorney General said.
The compay also contacted federal law enforcement and hired outside data analytics and cybersecurity experts. The investigation showed that, in early May 2021, a third party successfully got hold of “limited personal information” associated with United States and Canadian customers and interested buyers from a vendor used by Audi, Volkswagen, and several authorized dealers.
What kind of personal information was compromised? Details gathered for sales and marketing purposes in the years between 2014 and 2019 were breached.
The incident involved 3.3 million customers, the official document said. For more than 97% of the individuals, the exposed details consist of mostly contact and vehicle information related to Audi customers and interested buyers. Details include first and last name, personal or business email mailing address, email address, and phone number.
Furthermore, for some 90,000 Audi customers or possible buyers, the breached data includes more sensitive details such as eligibility for a purchase, loan, or lease. Over 95% of the more sensitive data also includes driver’s license numbers. “A very small number of records include data such as dates of birth, Social Security or social insurance numbers, account or loan numbers, and tax identification numbers,” the official letter confirmed.
What does the data breach mean to affected individuals?
Volkswagen’s customers and potential buyers are at risk of various forms of fraud due to the abundance of personal details exposed in the incident. There is also the risk of car theft. Even though luxurious cars are protected by anti-theft technology, there are instances that show the technology can be exploited, researchers warn.