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Indian call centre security in question again after another customer data breach

24th Aug 2005
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Another data protection scandal has broken over customer management information in Indian data centres after an Australian broadcaster said an undercover reporter bought confidential customer data from call centre operatives.

Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) television's Four Corners programme said its journalist bought birth and ATM details of Australians. This was the third case this year involving alleged sale of customer data by workers in the $5.2 billion back-office services industry that employs more than 350,000 people. Last month The Sun carried out a similar sting on an Indian outsourcer.

"Indian IT companies undertaking work for global companies contractually comply with all the requirements of relevant privacy and data protection laws of the home country..." the association said in a statement. "But the industry is determined to raise standards even further."

The Australian names requested by Four Corners had a price tag of $10 each.It was offered ATM numbers, passport numbers and credit card details - enough information for hackers to assume the identity of Australians online.
The programme did not go ahead with the purchase.

The Indian outsourcing trade body Nasscom said it would co-operate with any moves to clamp down on such activities, but called on ABC to reveal further details of this incident. "Nasscom urges media organisations concerned to provide details resulting from their 'entrapment operations' and knowledge of alleged criminal activities to the appropriate enforcement officials," Nasscom Chairman Kiran Karnik said here.

"Nasscom is concerned that such reports emanate from 'entrapment operations' and no person has reported any harm yet; in the absence of a formal complaint, even the enforcement officials cannot launch formal investigations and apprehend the criminals," he added. "We will work with the legal authorities in Australia and India to ensure that those responsible for any criminal breaches are promptly prosecuted and face the maximum penalty."

Karnik added that Indian companies are also working with the Government to introduce amendments to the Indian IT Act that will provide stricter penalties for criminals while Nasscom is establishing a register of IT professionals to ensure that only suitable staff was employed in the industry.

"The Indian IT and BPO companies already match worldwide standards in security. However, they want to do more: they want to set the very highest standards," Karnik added.

R. Narayanan, Chairman of Nasscom Initiative on HR for IT, is confident of its rollout by the year-end. "Thousands of candidates are picked off campus every year and the question paper structure differed in each of these companies," he said. "To bring about some uniformity in the question paper pattern since all recruiters gauge the test score of the prospective candidates on aptitude test, Nasscom is contemplating a test at the national level," said Narayanan.

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