When A Government Office Loses Disks.

As well as the usual advice on staying safe online it’s often useful to hear about security incidents that have made the media. And this time I’d like to point out what happens when a government loses disks containing personal data on 25 million individuals.

The two disks that were lost contained names, addresses, insurance numbers and bank account details of 25 million people. This is personal data that could be used to commit fraud or identity theft. This hasn’t been the case so far but it could still happen. Nobody seems to know where the disks are now.

How can this happen? The people handing the transport of the disks didn’t follow proper procedures. They’re human and they made mistakes. The disks were not encrypted before being shipped. The courier company lost them and have no records of where the disks might be. Then the police were involved only about 3 weeks after the incident occurred.

These kinds of accidents can and do happen every now and then. Your personal details can easily end up where you least expect it. One solution would be to make the agencies pay heavy fines for such security breaches, making it worth their time to ensure all procedures are followed.

The other lesson to be learnt here is that when you fill out a form these days you just have to assume it could one day end up in the wrong place. These days some of your personal details are no longer private. It’s just something that’s been happening slowing over the past couple of decades.

Some detailed articles can be found here.

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