Customer Data Stolen from TD Ameritrade Database

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2007-09-14 Print this article Print

Cyber-crooks have infiltrated a TD Ameritrade database containing contact information for 6.3 million customers.

Brokerage powerhouse TD Ameritrade revealed on Sept. 14 that cyber-crooks have infiltrated its database of 6.3 million customers and have been sending targeted spam to stolen e-mail addresses. The companys voice mail is featuring a message from CEO Joe Moglia reassuring callers that no Social Security numbers have been accessed, although a spokeswoman told eWEEK that SSNs are in fact kept on the same database that was breached. Neither were account user IDs or passwords stolen, Moglia said, even though that information is kept on the same database as the customer information that was taken.
"[Its a] spam issue, but no accounts were touched," Moglia said. "User IDs and passwords [remain] protected. [There is] no evidence that SSNs were ever taken."
Regardless of whether SSNs were taken, security experts warn that TD Ameritrade customers should proceed with extreme caution when approaching their e-mail. "Ameritrade is being very vocal about things like SSNs and passwords arent stolen. Well, if the hackers are miffed, theyll send out phishing e-mails to [TD] Ameritrade users saying, Hello, good friend here, you may have heard in the news that your details were lost. [To make up for it], wed like to give you free use of Ameritrade for a few weeks. Simply click on this link, then provide your account number and password," said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos. To read about a bill in California that could hold businesses responsible for security breaches, click here. Clicking on the theoretical link would then lead to a site designed to steal log-ins and passwords, of course, he said. Thats one example of how TD Ameritrade customers could be targeted given the information thats now in the hands of cyber-criminals. Criminals could also now send highly targeted spam armed with a customers e-mail address, contact information, and knowledge that a given person regularly engages in online stock trading. Pump and dump scam spam would be one likely use of such information. Cluley called this a "huge business" that now runs to some 25 percent of all spam Sophos now tracks—an explosive growth rate, up from 0.8 percent in January 2005. Cluley pointed to one recent bust in the fight against pump-and-dumpers that came when four men pled guilty to being part of an international gang that used spam to manipulate stock prices, raising more than $20 million from investors. The four are now facing between 5 and 10 years in jail after having spammed investors with bogus news about 15 small companies and then selling off the artificially inflated stock and pocketing the profits. Another thing the criminals could do with the knowledge of whos doing online stock trading would be to send offers for bogus tools, such as a free tool to track online portfolio that in actuality would be a Trojan that could commit identity theft or hijack a system, for example. TD Ameritrade has been working with ID Analytics, a provider of identity risk services, to evaluate its customer base to determine if the theft of data has led to identity theft. The firm has to date found none, according to the spokeswoman. Page 2: Customer Data Stolen from TD Ameritrade Database

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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