Friday, June 23, 2006

From the Department of Redundancy Department

posted by The Vidiot @ 6:47 PM Permalink

The government agency charged with fighting identity theft said Thursday it had lost two government laptops containing sensitive personal data, the latest in a series of breaches encompassing millions of people.
The car theft occurred about 10 days ago and managers were immediately notified.
Winston said, noting that the FTC employees did not violate security procedures by storing the password-protected laptops in their cars.
Let me see if I have this right ... the agency in charge of investigating and preventing identity theft lets our personal records get ripped off because they have a policy of letting their employees take the data home. And they try to justify it by saying the laptops were password protected. Sheesh, I can bypass that in about 30 seconds (15 if it's a Windows laptop), and most 14 year olds can probably do it in half the time.

Full disclosure: I have patient records on my laptop. I bring it home. But I encrypt all the data! Sheesh, my laptop cost $450 refurbished, the encryption program was open source (free). Why can't our government be bothered to take the same care with much more sensitive data!?

And it's not like the first time this has happened. The linked article gives us a bit o' history:
- At the Agriculture Department, a hacker who broke into the computer system, obtaining names, Social Security numbers and photos of 26,000 Washington-area employees and contractors. Victims will be offered free credit monitoring for a year after the break-in in early June.

- At Health and Human Services, personal information for nearly 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries may have been compromised in April when an insurance company employee called up the data through a hotel computer and then failed to delete the file.

- At Energy, Social Security numbers and other data for nearly 1,500 people working for the National Nuclear Security Administration may have been compromised when a hacker gained entry to its computer system last fall. Officials said June 12 they had learned only recently of the breach.
Not to mention the VA theft of 26 million+ records and the fact that Federal Judges have had to shutdown the whole Department of the Interior's access to the internet because of "the potential alteration or destruction of [Indian] trust data by unauthorized access through the Internet"

And on another note, if I was The Vidiot, (thankfully I'm not because, ewwww, she's a girl and she's got cooties), I might wonder why all these 'identity thefts' were occurring at the same time the government is illegally tapping our communication and banking records? Can you say 'plausible deniability' for when our records start turning up in Halliburton et al databases? I thought you could.


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