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Non-Encrypted Hall of Shame
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February 21, 2007 Seton Healthcare Network
Seton Healthcare Network – A laptop containing the personal information of approximately 7,800 former patients was stolen from one of their Austin, Texas offices. The information included Social Security numbers, dates-of-birth and insurance program numbers like CHIP or Medicaid may also have been included. This is actually a second incident for this hospital system in less than a month (see below).


February 16, 2007 KXAN.COM
Seton Highland Lakes Hospital – A laptop was stolen from an employee's car at the Burnet, TX hospital. The laptop contained about 2,500 child patients' names, medical information and some social security numbers. A hospital spokesperson was quoted as saying "You cannot access that data. It's just gibberish. It's meaningless without the software. Then, you need the four different passwords to get into the different levels." However passwords do not equate to data encryption and do not adequately protect sensitive data.


February 13, 2007 Government Executive
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Turns out that the stolen VA hard drive reported below (Feb 5th) may have had up to 1.8 million veterans and doctors personal information. Encrypting the original computer hard drive but not encrypting the backup drive doesn't do much good.


February 13, 2007 DelmarvaNow.com
St. Mary's Hospital – Leonardtown, Maryland. A laptop with names, birth dates, and social security number on as many as 130,000 patients was stolen from the Hospital in December. The data was not encrypted. The Hospital is paying National ID Recovery up to $425,000 “to help patients keep track of their personal information such as credit card usage patterns”. Take note of this, data encryption software would have cost them far less.


February 12, 2007 Security Fix – Washington Post
Federal Bureau of Investigation - A U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General report comes down hard on the FBI's loss of 160 laptops over the course of 44 months. The report contained the following statement “Perhaps most troubling, the FBI could not determine in many cases whether the lost or stolen laptop computers contained sensitive or classified information. Such information may include case information, personal identifying information, or classified information on FBI operations.” At least 8 laptops were identified as containing “sensitive or classified” information, 43 laptops may have contained such information. Even some laptops that were reported as not containing sensitive or classified information were later found to have contained “sensitive but unclassified” information. Of those laptops identified as containing sensitive or classified information only 3 were identified as using data encryption.

The fact that the FBI does not even know what laptops contained classified “National Security Information” (NSI) is completely unsatisfactory. Nor could they say with any level of confidence if data encryption was in use on most of these laptops. Most were not even reported to NCIC (National Crime Information Center) as required (85% were not reported). The fact that 160 laptops were lost or stolen out of a total of more than 25,000 is not troublesome in and of its self. But the fact that FBI doesn't know which laptops are used to process classified NSI information nor do they know which one's use data encryption is very troublesome. Properly encrypted the laptops could fall in to the hands of a enemy nation and still hold their secrets. OMB Memorandum M-06-16, Protection of Sensitive Agency Information (June 23, 2006) requires that agencies “Encrypt all data on mobile computers/devices which carry agency data unless the data is determined to be non-sensitive, in writing, by your Deputy Secretary or an individual he/she may designate in writing”. These measures were suppose to be in place in August 2006. Lets see how well the FBI and other Federal agencies do from here on out. Reports from various agencies seem to indicate that few agencies are in OMB compliance at this time.


February 8, 2007 The Baltimore Sun
Johns Hopkins – Backup tapes being sent from the Hospital to a contractor that makes microfiche archives of the data have been lost. Some of the tapes included Social Security numbers, addresses and direct-deposit bank account information for 52,567 former and current employees. One tape had names, dates of birth, sex, race and medical record numbers for 83,000 hospital patients. In all 135,000 people are being notified that their information was on the lost tapes. Hospital officials believe that the tapes were were likely misplaced by a courier and later destroyed. But no one has any real evidence to support that conclusion. The tapes were not encrypted. Hospital officials state that the tapes would require special equipment to read, but as mentioned here before that equipment is readily available at data recovery companies. The tapes could be sent overseas where the data could be transferred to a hard drive for minimal cost. It took all of about 3 minutes to find a company in Budapest, Hungary that looked more than capable of handling the job.


February 5, 2007 CNET.COM
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – A portable hard drive used for backing up an employee's computer has turned up missing at a Alabama VA medical facility. The hard drive contained up to 48,000 veteran's data records. In a confusing statement Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) is saying that up to 20,000 of those records weren't encrypted. OK, the consensus here is some people at the VA are probably confused. If they were using whole disk encryption the way they're suppose to be doing then everything on that drive is encrypted. If they have created an encrypted volume on the portable drive and only used it for half the data then that is a problem. But its also possible they aren't sure how the encryption works. Since the drive was being used for backup purposes its possible that it contained a backup of the employee's computer from before they started using encryption on the desktop computer and a backup after they started using encryption. If that is the case then its possible nothing on the backup drive is encrypted. The desktop computer would have unencrypted the data during the backup process and if the external drive wasn't protected by whole disk encryption then the data is unencrypted. The IG has the employee's computer now so we'll probably find out soon.



article index
page 1 : March 2007 to Present
page 2 - current : February 2007
page 3 : January 2007
page 4 : December 2006
page 5 : November 2006
page 6 : October 2006
page 7 : September 2006
page 8 : August 2006
page 9 : July 2006
page 10 : Prior to July 2006
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