The man running Sweden’s biggest security firm was declared bankrupt this week after his identity was hacked. Though the sub-optimal branding implications were hard to miss, Securitas AB hopes to have put the whole awkward incident behind it by the end of the day. Alf Goransson, the company’s 59-year-old chief executive officer since 2007, is appealing the July 10 bankruptcy decision by the Stockholm District Court, which acted on false information, the company said on Wednesday. The perpetrator used the CEO’s identity to seek a loan of an undisclosed amount, after which a bankruptcy application was filed in his name. The identity theft took place in March. Goransson didn’t know he’d been hacked until this week, the company said.
The hack attack “has no effect on the company, other than that our CEO has been declared bankrupt,” spokeswoman Gisela Lindstrand said. “And that will hopefully only last until later today, depending on how soon they can remove the decision.”
But the data theft of a prominent Swedish executive raises questions about security in a society that is leading the way in digitization. Sweden is well ahead of most of the rest of the world in replacing cash with digital payments — even homeless groups there accept credit cards. At the country’s Abba museum, tourists aren’t allowed to pay for anything with cash.
The country’s efforts to embrace transparency in all fields are also well documented. Sweden encourages widespread access to public information (employees can find out what their colleagues earn by checking with the tax authorities) and, like most other rich countries, online shopping and loan applications are on the rise.
All of this has coincided with a sharp increase in identity fraud. Sweden responded last year by introducing specific legislation to target the development. Goransson’s case was one of 12,800 crimes involving hacked identities reported in Sweden in the first six months of 2017.
Goransson wasn’t informed until after the court’s decision and will now appeal. The appointed bankruptcy trustee has been informed and will support the appeal of the bankruptcy decision, which is expected to be removed, Securitas said.