Can the Government keep a secret?
Last week it was the Veterans Affairs computer with personal data. Today we are informed that data from the Department of Energy is now at risk.
Officials told a House oversight committee that a hacker stole a computer file containing the names and Social Security numbers of 1,500 employees of the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons agency. Good that we are being informed. What I would like to know is why are we being informed on June 9th when the theft occurred in September?
If you think you heard this before, you are right. Just last month a Veterans Administration employee took his computer home and it was stolen. Three weeks went by before informing authorities or any of the 26.5 million veterans whose personal data was on the computer. This is proof the Government can keep a secret.
The biggest upset is that this is the wrong secret. What is wanted is that they keep the personal data secret and not the fact that they have lost personal information when someone steals a computer or hacks into a database.
This most recently revealed case involved a computer at a facility run by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in Albuquerque, N.M. The file contained information about workers at the agency’s nuclear weapons complex.
NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks told a hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee he had learned about the theft in September, a few weeks after it occurred, but never told his boss, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. He said he assumed the department’s intelligence officers would report the theft.
This was an incredible lapse! Members of the congressional committee should have Brooks’ head for this type of “thinking”.
The VA case is believed to be a result of a lack of basic security measures and a specific employee’s stupidity. The employee had the sensitive material on a computer that he routinely took home with him. And, oh yeah, he lived in a Washington, D.C. neighborhood that has had a rash of burglaries by young thieves specializing in taking computers.
Bottom line on this is that our military personnel were put at risk for identity theft and personal risk and not informed of this. Who is protecting who?
Current lifestyles are transient and things do get lost. We must all take precautions on keeping our records safe and secure whether paper records or computer files. Even with extra measures taken it can be that you could be owed money by the government or a state. Moving and not leaving a forwarding address can stop that final paycheck from reaching you.
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