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[July 26, 2004]


Acxiom Breached�Again




A man in Florida, Scott Levine, 45, has been indicted on 144 charges of unauthorized access to a protected computer, conspiracy, device fraud, obstruction of justice and money laundering after hacking into Acxiom Corp.�s  (news - alert) database.


Arkansas-based Acxiom is one of the largest customer data management services companies in the world, and it manages personal information on millions of consumers, as well as financial and other internal data for companies. Coincidently, the firm prides itself as being a leader on consumer privacy issues.


Levine is accused of breaking into Acxiom�s server and downloading more than 8MB of user data that included personal information of numerous people over a 16-month period (2002-2003). The estimates of damage exceed seven million dollars.


Prosecutors said the information wasn�t used for identity theft; rather, it is believed Levine intended to use the data for his own company, Snipermail.com Inc., which distributes ads via e-mail and has since been taken offline. Six other Snipermail employees are cooperating in the investigation.


This indictment consequently sprung from a separate case last year in which an Ohio man, Daniel Baas, pleaded guilty to hacking into an Acxiom server. The breach involved one external FTP server outside Acxiom's firewall that is used to transfer files back and forth between Acxiom and its clients. The company said no internal databases were accessed and no breach penetrated its firewall. It was during follow-up investigations into that case when the company uncovered a second set of infiltrations, which came from a different Internet Protocol address, tracing back to Levine.


David R. Butcher is the assistant editor for Customer [email protected] Solutions Magazine.

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