Honda Canada tells customers that hackers stole some personal data

Honda Canada has informed thousands of its Honda and Acura customers that some of their personal information was stolen when its computer systems were hacked.

The company said the information accessed was related to a program in 2009 that encouraged customers to register at the myHonda website.

In an alert posted on Honda's website, the Japanese car-maker said details such as customer names, addresses, vehicle identification numbers and in some cases Honda Financial Services account numbers were accessed by hackers.

The company said the information didn't include data typically used for identity theft or fraud, such as birth dates, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.

"Honda sincerely apologizes for this incident and we are working diligently to protect your information and improve our data security procedures,'' the company said.

Tom Keenan, a computer security expert and professor at the University of Calgary, said the breach is bad, but not as bad as others recently since it did not include information such as credit card numbers.

"It all goes into a kind of identity theft possibility because if you know enough about a person who might be able to establish enough credentials to start credit in their name,'' he said.

Keenan said names and addresses can easily be obtained in lots of other places such as telephone directories. But he noted that there are many ways thieves could use such information, for example by trying to scam Honda owners with fake service deals.

"You have to assume somebody didn't do this just for the hell of it,'' he said.

Honda said customers should be alert to marketing campaigns from third parties that reference their ownership of a Honda, but otherwise recommended no other specific action.

"Honda does not share its customer information with unauthorized third parties and does not contact customers asking for financial information,'' the company said.

Honda said anyone with questions about the incident should call 1-800-839-2826.

The incident at Honda followed a number of hacker attacks at Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony in recent weeks, the most notable coming last month and affecting more than 100 million accounts of PlayStation Network and Qriocity users.

In that incident, data including names, birth dates, email addresses and log-in information was compromised. Sony also said encrypted credit card data from 10 million accounts may have been accessed.

Earlier this month, Canada's privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart called for the power to impose "attention-getting fines'' when major corporations fail to protect personal information.

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