JUNE 23, 2006
Various federal government agencies have committed serious and costly data breaches recently, but the icing on the cake came this week when the agency charged with fighting identity theft admitted losing two laptops containing sensitive personal data used to commit identity theft.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) claims that the computers were stolen from the car of an agency attorney. The laptops contained names, addresses, Social Security numbers and financial account numbers of 110 people supposedly targeted by the FTC.
The incident makes the FTC the sixth government agency to commit negligence by losing sensitive data in the last few months. A few weeks ago the Veterans Affairs Department lost the personal data of about 27 million military personnel and their families. As a result, the government is offering all of them free credit monitoring – to prevent identity theft as a result of the negligence – which will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
The other federal agencies to recently commit information breaches are the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/bw-other/2006/jun/22/062205879.html
At the Agriculture Department, a hacker broke into its computer system and obtained names, Social Security numbers and photos of 26,000 Washington-area employees and contractors.
At the Energy Department, the Social Security numbers, security clearance levels and place of employment of 1,500 people were accessed by another computer hacker. Health and Human Services compromised personal information of 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries when an insurance company employee accessed the data from a hotel computer then failed to delete the file.
At the Defense Department, an intruder gained access to a Pentagon computer server and compromised confidential health care insurance information for more than 14,000 people. Even in Afghanistan, computer memory drives containing sensitive U.S. military information, were stolen and sold at local shops.
As bad as they sound, these serious security breaches are not surprising considering that, not long ago, a Congressional report detailed the widespread security problems in practically all government computer systems.
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