IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Shell hit by massive data breach

Personal details of 170,000 workers at oil giant Shell have been mailed to campaigners.

Shell logo

A database containing contact details of 170,000 workers of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has been emailed to campaigning groups opposed to the company's activities.

Seven non-governmental groups including human rights groups and environmental campaigners such as Greenpeace plus anti-Shell campaigning website royaldutchshellplc.com received the database details, which is thought to have been sent by a disaffected former employee of the company.

Many of those groups are upset at the way Shell is purported to be operating in some countries, particularly Nigeria.

The database is thought to contain names, telephone numbers and further details on permanent and contract employees. A lengthy covering letter was attached to the database, purporting to be from more than 100 Shell staff.

Shell has demanded that the activists delete the database. Furthermore, it said it has already launched an investigation, and argues that the breach does not pose a security risk. However, it could provide no further comment at the time of publication.

If it is found that Shell is guilty of an offence under the Data Protection Act, it could be fined.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) the UK's data watchdog said it takes breaches affecting individuals' personal data "very seriously".

A spokesperson for the ICO said: "Shell has notified us of a security breach regarding a significant amount of people's personal details. We are looking into how this data breach occurred and will decide what, if any regulatory action, is required."

Shell if it is found guilty may escape lightly. Fines levied by the ICO for failing to protect against the loss of personal data tend to be under 5,000.

While the data breach may prove costly both financially and in terms of reputation, its timing is ironic. In two months' time, new rules are set to be introduced that may mean companies could be fined up to 500,000 if they are found to be reckless with personal information.

The leaked database is about six months old, implying that ex-employees may have been involved.

Shell cut 5,000 jobs last year.

Featured Resources

The state of Salesforce: Future of business

Three articles that look forward into the changing state of Salesforce and the future of business

Free Download

The mighty struggle to migrate SAP to the cloud may be over

A simplified and unified approach to delivering Enterprise Transformation in the cloud

Free Download

The business value of the transformative mainframe

Modernising on the mainframe

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ Of IBM FlashSystem

Cost savings and business benefits enabled by FlashSystem

Free Download

Recommended

ICO crackdown on AI recruitment part of three-year vision to save businesses £100 million
data protection

ICO crackdown on AI recruitment part of three-year vision to save businesses £100 million

14 Jul 2022
The public sector will no longer face eye-watering data breach fines, ICO confirms
public sector

The public sector will no longer face eye-watering data breach fines, ICO confirms

1 Jul 2022
MoJ faces £17.5m GDPR fine over subject access request backlog
data protection

MoJ faces £17.5m GDPR fine over subject access request backlog

20 Jan 2022
Cabinet Office fined £500,000 for New Year Honours data leak
data breaches

Cabinet Office fined £500,000 for New Year Honours data leak

3 Dec 2021

Most Popular

Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security
Sponsored

Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security

8 Aug 2022
How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

29 Jul 2022
Cyber attack on software supplier causes "major outage" across the NHS
cyber attacks

Cyber attack on software supplier causes "major outage" across the NHS

8 Aug 2022