While the list of credit card numbers isn’t that large, this might just be one of the biggest blunders I’ve seen this month. The Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs managed to publish the credit card numbers and expiration dates for both the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice.
The Telegraaf, one of the largest Dutch newspapers, asked for details about the expense claims of members of the government, hoping to uncover a scandal similar to the one in the UK that made headlines all over the world earlier this year. They managed to get the information following a Freedom of Information Act request; shortly afterwards, the information was posted online.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs coordinated the publication, and attempted to remove any sensitive information such as home addresses and credit card details. Unfortunately for them, the method used wasn’t the best ever. The information was provided as a PDF document, with some parts covered with black rectangles. This means anyone can easily remove these. Just days after the publication, a journalist reported this, forcing both ministries to block the credit cards. In other parts of the documents, parts were blacked out on the original receipts, but showed up anyway when they were scanned.
The irony in all this is that the Ministry of Justice has just started a campaign to raise awareness about online safety, including the advice not to post too much personal information online, and tips about safety when making online payments.