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From: security curmudgeon (jerichoattrition.org)
Date: Sat May 05 2007 - 00:57:22 CDT
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From: Richard M. Smith <rmscomputerbytesman.com>
TSA Hard Drive With Employee Data Is Reported Stolen
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 5, 2007; A09
The FBI and the Secret Service have opened a criminal investigation into
the apparent theft of a computer hard drive containing personal, payroll
and bank information of 100,000 current and former workers with the
Transportation Security Administration, including airport security
officers and federal air marshals, the TSA said yesterday.
In a written statement released after business hours, the TSA said it
learned Thursday that the drive was missing from a secure area of its
human resources office at its Crystal City headquarters.
The TSA employs about 50,000 people, including 43,000 airport guards and
thousands of air marshals, who are federal law enforcement officers.
A TSA spokesman said the loss occurred in recent days and will not pose a
significant risk of security breaches in sensitive areas patrolled by
workers at airports, ports and rail yards. Access to such areas requires
additional credentials that use unique physical identifiers such as
fingerprints, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity
to discuss security protocols.
The hard drive, which contained payroll data from January 2002 to August
2005, included employee names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and
bank account and routing information.
The TSA began notifying employees of the loss at the close of business
yesterday "out of an abundance of caution," offering free
credit-monitoring services and advising workers to alert their financial
"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," stated
the letter, signed by TSA Administrator Kip Hawley. "We apologize that
your information may be subject to unauthorized access, and I deeply
regret this incident."
The episode is the latest high-profile data theft to strike the government
or the private sector, although its impact on a domestic security agency
with law enforcement responsibilities may pose added risks.
CardSystems Solutions and the owner of retail chains T.J. Maxx and
Marshalls have disclosed large breaches of credit card information on
millions of consumers.
The Department of Veterans Affairs lost a laptop last year with
information for more than 26.5 million military personnel, although it was
recovered with no evidence of copying. Since 2003, 19 federal agencies
have reported 788 incidents of data theft or loss, affecting thousands of
employees and the public.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security
Committee, said he was briefed by the department, adding, "For an agency
suffering from morale problems, this is a terrible and unfortunate blow."
The panel will probably hold hearings, said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee
(D-Tex.), who chairs a subcommittee overseeing the TSA. "This organization
responsible for the nation's security has had a massive security breach.
Whether it is known what the breach was or how it occurred, it did occur
and this raises enormous concerns," Lee said. "We will be in a posture of
quickly looking for answers."
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