380,000 passwords released in ad blunder

Around 380,000 customers of Swedish broadband supplier Bredbandsbolaget have been told they must change their internet password after the company sent out the details as part of a direct mail campaign.

Bredbandsbolaget, which is a subsidiary of Norway’s Telenor, wanted to persuade its customers to download free music, and sent advertising material to 380,000 customers in an open letter. But the username and password was inadvertently printed on the letter too.

“What happened goes completely against our privacy policy,” said Bredbandsbolaget’s head of marketing, Anna Thorbjörnsson.

“The mailing should have been sent out in a sealed envelope.”

Since the letter looked like most other direct marketing that’s stuffed through Swedish letterboxes on a daily basis, many customers simply threw it away without looking at it.

Now Bredbandsbolaget has written to all its customers asking them to change their password.

Customers who, for the sake of convenience, use the same password elsewhere – which is likely to be the majority – are being advised to change all such passwords.

“If anyone suffers loss as a consequence of this mistake, we would like them to contact us so we can discuss the matter,” said Anna Thorbjörnsson.