In late 2003, the Norwegian government launched Altinn: a web portal that allowed its citizens to access and submit government forms online, as well as get their personal tax information when filing season rolled around. However, users hoping to get an early start on their taxes this year were in for a serious surprise, as Altinn crashed when an influx of Norwegians attempted to access their info. The service was restored a few hours later, but only a sole individual's personal information was available — and anyone trying to access the site could see it. Icrontic is reporting that the individual in question is "Kenneth," a 36-year-old man from Oslo. Aside from his own tax information from the last two years being made public, his wife's details, as well as information about his employer, were accessible.
The issue only lasted for 15 minutes before the site was taken offline by Brønnøysundregisteret, the company that manages Altinn. Apparently the problem was caused by a freak coincidence, as Kenneth's login credentials were stored in the server's cache at the time of the crash. When Altinn came back up, everyone trying to access the system was automatically logged in as Kenneth. It's not clear how many people might have seen the man's personal information. Brønnøysundregisteret is keeping the site offline while it tries to figure out how to fix the problem, and there's no time frame for when Altinn will be back up.
This isn't the first time the web portal has experienced issues. Altinn went down for two days at the outset of Norway's tax season last year, though no personal information was leaked. However, in the wake of this most recent — and serious — problem, Brønnøysundregisteret is admitting that there were known bugs in Altinn when it launched, and the company lacked the expertise to properly manage the system at the outset. It has promised to deal with the problems, but that's probably not too reassuring if you're a Norwegian citizen. Especially one named Kenneth.