Last week, the Transportation Security Administration became aware that an employee lost an external hard drive containing employment records of 100,000 TSA employees from January 2002 through August 2005.
The data, which included names, social security numbers, dates of birth, payroll information and bank account routing information, among other things, was discovered missing from the TSA Headquarters Office of Human Capital. The names included various personnel and even U.S. Sky Marshals.
I'm not going to discuss how this puts our Sky Marshals, the travel industry and the American public at great risk, but you all know the potential Pandora's Box that was just opened.
While the TSA notified the FBI and Secret Service to help find the lost hard drive, they failed to notify their workers with as much haste.
If you didn't know by now, the TSA, a division of the Homeland Security Department, is responsible for the security of the nation's transportation system, including airports and train stations. The TSA has not yet mastered protecting computer hardware and their employee's private information.
Despite the fact that the TSA claims it follows strict data protection laws and has "zero tolerance for employees not following policies on data protection," they still earned a D in computer security from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. To make things even worse, 2006 was the first year the Department of Homeland Security scored a passing grade.
This past Monday, the Washington Post scolded the TSA and the government saying, "This is getting ridiculous," and "... Uncle Sam's track record is horrendous."
But the TSA is not the only government organization losing things.
- Personal data from 26.5 million U.S. military veterans was stolen from a Department of Veteran Affairs data analyst who took information home last May (The data was later recovered).
For additional security breaches from the government see here.
It's true that most Americans worry about identity theft. If you happen to be one of the victims that I mentioned above, or fear that your own identity is at risk, Crediteria.com has a great worksheet for you.