Computer security breach sends Honda scrambling

Hack attacks on corporate computer networks continue as Honda admits to security breach.

Honda Accords being assembled at Honda Motor Co.’s Saitama Factory in Sayama, north of Tokyo. (Photo: Shizuo Kambayashi/CP)

Honda Canada has shifted into damage control after the automobile manufacturer’s computer systems were hacked earlier this year, prompting the company to mail out letters to thousands of Honda and Acura customers.

In a notice posted on the company’s website, Honda apologized for the security breach and advised customers to be vigilant of potential marketing campaigns from third-party organizations making a reference to data that may have been stolen.

The news comes on the heels of a massive security breach at electronics giant, Sony, who revealed on April 26 that its online gaming network had been targeted, compromising the personal information of up to 77 million users.  In this particular case, names, passwords, and possibly credit card information was stolen.

An official with Honda said the security breach occurred in March, targeting a 2009 mailing list associated with a marketing campaign, and has affected approximately 280,000 customers.  The official said the gap between the breach and the beginning of the notification process was due to the company’s efforts to fully gauge the gravity of the situation and determine exactly what information had been stolen.

Stolen data included names, addresses, vehicle identification numbers, and an undisclosed number of Honda Financial Services (HFS) account numbers.

The company said it does not share customer information with unauthorized sources and refrains from asking customers for personal financial information.

Honda claims the stolen data is not the type of information typically used in identity-theft crimes, such as social insurance numbers, HFS financing contract data, and driver’s license numbers.

In a separate incident in late 2010, the American arm of Honda was forced to notify 2.2 million customers, along with 2.7 million Acura owners, after a third-party organization handling data for the automaker had its database hacked, resulting in the theft of email addresses and vehicle registration numbers.