Alibaba Executives Called In by China Authorities Amid Historic Data Heist

HONG KONG—Executives from Alibaba Group Holding cloud division have been called in for talks by Shanghai authorities in connection with the theft of a vast police database, according to people familiar with the matter, adding urgency to an internal investigation by the Chinese tech giant into how one of history’s largest data heists was allowed to happen.

The investigation revolves around a cache of sensitive Shanghai police data on an estimated nearly one billion Chinese citizens, which was offered for sale online for the equivalent of roughly $200,000 in late June. Cybersecurity researchers said a dashboard for managing the database had been left open on the public internet without a password for more than a year, making it easy to pilfer and erase its contents.