World-Check Database Leaked by Third Party

October 4, 2016

This is the problem with sensitive data—it likes to wander from its confines. Motherboard reports, “Terrorism Database Used by Governments and Banks Leaked Online.” Security researcher Chris Vickery reported stumbling upon a copy of the World-Check intelligence database from mid-2014 that was made available by a third party. The database maintained by Thomson Reuters for use by governments, intelligence agencies, banks, and law firms to guard against risks. Reporter Joseph Cox specifies:

Described by Thomson Reuters as a ‘global screening solution,’ the World-Check service, which relies on information from all over the world, is designed to give deep insight into financial crime and the people potentially behind it.

We monitor over 530 sanctions, including watch and regulatory law and enforcement lists, and hundreds of thousands of information sources, often identifying heightened-risk entities months or years before they are listed. In fact, in 2012 alone we identified more than 180 entities before they appeared on the US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list based on reputable sources identifying relevant risks,’ the Thomson Reuters website reads.

A compilation of sensitive data like the World-Check database, though built on publicly available info, is subject to strict European privacy laws. As a result, it is (normally) only used by carefully vetted organizations. The article notes that much the U.S.’s No Fly List, World-Check has been known to flag the innocent on occasion.

Though Vickery remained mum on just how and where he found the data, he did characterize it as a third-party leak, not a hack. Thomson Reuters reports that the leak is now plugged, and they have secured a promise from that party to never leak the database again.

Cynthia Murrell, October 4, 2016
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