Sunday, May 06, 2007

We Need a Department of Hard Drive Security

This blog has been a frequent critic of the Department of Homeland Security. As far as any citizen without an official security clearance can tell, DHS is huge, unwieldy, expensive, and not measurably more effective than the agencies it gobbled up when it was formed. It has always been a bureaucrat’s dream, an expanded opportunity for patronage, pork, nepotism, and the exercise of unbridled discretionary power.

Remember when the Transportation Security Agency took over airport security control? Did you feel safer then?

Well, let’s hope that they do better at protecting air travelers than they do at protecting their own employees’ confidential data:

Transportation Security Administration Loses Hard Drive Containing 100,000 Employee Records

The Transportation Security Administration has lost a computer hard drive containing Social Security numbers, bank data and payroll information for about 100,000 employee records.

Authorities realized Thursday the hard drive was missing from a controlled area at TSA headquarters. TSA Administrator Kip Hawley sent a letter to employees Friday apologizing for the lost data and promising to pay for one year of credit monitoring services.

“TSA has no evidence that an unauthorized individual is using your personal information, but we bring this incident to your attention so that you can be alert to signs of any possible misuse of your identity,” Hawley wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press. “We profoundly apologize for any inconvenience and concern that this incident has caused you.”

“The agency said it did not know whether the device is still within headquarters or was stolen,” the agency said in a statement Friday.

TSA said it has asked the FBI and Secret Service to investigate and said it would fire anyone discovered to have violated the agency’s data-protection policies.
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Have you noticed how often this kind of thing happens? It seems that just about every week some government agency manages to lose a huge quantity of personal data, a windfall for all those con men who would otherwise have to spend years spamming and phishing to get the same data.

More than once it has been a government agency charged with our security that lost the data. These are the people who are supposed to be better than we are at keeping information confidential.

Huge bureaucracies are the bane of Western societies. The heads of government agencies enjoy lavish lifestyles at taxpayer expense while spending enormous amounts of money covering up their errors, deficiencies, and crimes.

The widespread illusion that the bloated power of the federal government is a net gain for American citizens is one of the greatest successful scams of modern times.


Profitsbeard said...

They need to install a chip in these devices that acts as a 'lo-jack'.

"Losing" (or losing track) of them is inexcusable folly.