NEWS
10/24/2011 07:31 EDT | Updated 12/24/2011 05:12 EST

Anonymous tipster claims Internet security breach at Pan American Games

GUADALAJARA, Mexico - Journalists covering the Pan American Games, including about two dozen Canadians, could be at risk of identity theft or fraud.

Personal information about the media is accessible through the Games website, according to an anonymous tipster who emailed reporters Monday.

The tipster, identified by the pseudonym Galileo Trueman, emailed reporters claiming he or she could access personal information and included the reporter's full name, date of birth and the first five digits of his or her passport. The information was correct.

The Guadalajara 2011 Organizing Committee (COPAG) later released a statement denying any illegal access to the website took place. COPAG declined further comment, but added in the statement that any personal information in their database had been deleted.

Ian Gordon, the Canadian director of marketing for computer security company Trend Micro, said the Games website appeared to be vulnerable based on the contents of the email.

"I would hope (Pan Am organizers) would protect that information, but it looks like they haven't," said Ian Gordon, the Canadian director of marketing for computer security company Trend Micro. "The essence of this challenge is that these guys are pretty smart these days. All kinds of organizations have to be very vigilant about protecting that kind of information."

The tipster claimed to have no affiliation with the Pan Am website or Pan Am Games.

"I also want to clarify that in no way am I a hacker or did I hack this website," he or she wrote. "I discovered the security hole in the website only by coincidence. . .

"I'm sure somebody else with bad intentions could gain easily access and abuse this security hole."

The Canadian Olympic Committee had demanded COPAG correct the problem after the breach was discovered.

"We contacted COPAG this morning and they were already aware of the problem. We asked that all information regarding Canadian media be removed from their website immediately," said Canada's chef de mission Jacques Cardyn. "COPAG is working on it with an IT task force and federal police."

Almost all of the 21 Canadian journalists accredited to cover the Games received the email, along with reporters and photographers from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse along with other local and international news outlets.

The tipster said the database includes names, photos, parents' names, addresses and passport numbers for "thousands of media personnel in almost every country on the American continent and more, working with newspapers, TV, photography, etc."

There are more than 1,400 journalists covering the Games.