Embassies and high commissions contacted over Ministry for Culture and Heritage digital privacy breach

Eight embassies and high commissions have been contacted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade over the Government's digital privacy breach. 

Passports, driver licences and birth certificate details were exposed to fraudsters after the serious digital privacy breach at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage on Sunday. 

It was revealed 302 young people supplied their details to it as part of an application for the Tuia 250 Voyage trainee programme - 20 of them internationals. 

The details were uploaded to an externally contracted website which was then compromised, exposing their details. 

Bernadette Cavanagh, chief executive of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, said her team is continuing to work with the affected people and assisting them with support they need. 

"We have made more than 400 calls and will continue to work with those impacted until every one of them has the information and support they need," she told Newshub. 

"This includes some 20 international people who provided their passports to us."

Cavanagh said the internationals are from Australia, Brazil, China, the United States, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Denmark. 

"I encourage anyone who has any concerns to please contact the Ministry on our freephone line 0800 624 669. We have a team awaiting your call to help you in any way we can."

The ministry has confirmed that no other websites have been shut down as a result of the digital privacy breach. 

An external review will take place to see what went wrong and to ensure that the ministry's processes are robust.

John Edwards, the Privacy Commissioner, said people are vulnerable to identity theft if all their identity documents are exposed. 

"There's a possibility they could be subject to fraud and in some cases there may be even physical security concerns."

The ministry said it's moving as quickly as possible to reissue documents, at its own cost. 

To do that it needs to pass on the information to the relevant agencies, such as the Department of Internal Affairs, for passports.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is responsible for the ministry, and on Monday she said: "I stand there and have to take responsibility."

The Prime Minister isn't expecting the ministry's chief executive to resign, but she's not ruling out someone losing their job over the mess. 

The ministry said advice from its security investigators was that it wasn't a targeted attack on the site, but rather an "opportunistic find of information" that wasn't as secure as it should have been.