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Major Data Breach exposes home addresses of Dutch homeowners through Land Registry

Het-Kadaster

Amsterdam, Netherlands – In a startling revelation, a significant data breach at the Dutch land registry Kadaster has resulted in the exposure of the addresses of millions of homeowners in the Netherlands, according to an investigation conducted by RTL Nieuws.

The breach was brought to light by investigative journalists, prompting immediate concerns from privacy watchdog AP. The agency swiftly called for the closure of the security loophole to prevent further misuse of sensitive information.

Kadaster, responsible for maintaining property records, operates a website that offers a search function enabling users to identify the owner of a registered property. This service, initially intended for real estate professionals including estate agents and notaries, is accessible to anyone. Additionally, registered professional accounts allow users to search for individual addresses by name for a fee. However, the flaw in the system was exposed when RTL Nieuws managed to obtain an account using details from another company due to the lack of vetting during application. The charges for these searches were then sent to the unsuspecting company’s business address.

Screenshots published by RTL Nieuws revealed that individuals were advertising the service of searching the land registry’s database for a fee, raising concerns about the potential misuse of private information.

Cybersecurity experts and privacy advocates have voiced strong concerns about the breach, highlighting the risk it poses to individuals’ safety. Dave Maasland, a cybersecurity expert, criticized the government’s lack of understanding of the potential dangers and likened the registry’s accessibility to a “Yellow Pages for criminals.”

Aleid Wolfsen, chair of the privacy regulator AP, raised alarm about the broader implications of the breach. He stated, “This security breach is a huge risk to journalists, activists, and politicians who are being threatened. But also anyone who’s dealing with an angry, stalking ex-partner.” The potential for individuals to be targeted or threatened due to the exposed information is a grave concern.

In response to the breach, the land registry Kadaster announced that it has taken significant steps to reinforce its security measures. The organization expressed its commitment to addressing the issue and taking any potential misuse of personal data seriously.

This incident echoes similar concerns raised in the past, notably when Derk Wiersum, a lawyer defending a crucial witness in the trial of alleged drugs baron Ridouan Taghi, was tragically murdered by a gunman who accessed his details through the Chamber of Commerce’s database. The incident underscores the critical need for robust security measures and vigilant oversight to protect individuals’ private information from falling into the wrong hands.

As the investigation into the breach continues, stakeholders are urging immediate action to rectify the situation and prevent further breaches of privacy. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of safeguarding personal data in an increasingly digital world.

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