Secret Service under investigation over loss of sensitive files on Metro

Jana Winter of Fox News reports that the Secret Service  – the agency that is often involved in investigations of data breaches – had its own breach back in 2008 that is now (finally?) under investigation:

The Secret Service is the target of an investigation into an “immense breach” involving the loss of two backup computer tapes left on a Washington, D.C., Metro train that contained sensitive personal information about all agency employees, contacts and overseas informants, according to multiple law enforcement and congressional sources.


Sources said the tapes were lost on the Red Line of the Metro in 2008 by a young, low-level associate of a private contracting company that had been hired to transport them from Secret Service’s Investigative Resources Management division at the agency’s headquarters in the Penn Quarter section of Washington, D.C., to a secure vault in Olney, Md., where government agencies store contingency plans, documents and other backup material. The employee had volunteered to deliver the tapes because he lived near the location of the vault, but got off at the Glenmont, Md., Metro stop without the tapes, according to sources.

Sources said the “personally identifiable information” — or “PII,” in government-speak — on the tapes includes combinations of the following:  Social Security Numbers; home addresses; information about family members; phone numbers; dates of birth; medical information; bank account numbers; employment information; driver’s license numbers; passport numbers; and any biometric information on file with the Secret Service.


Did the Secret Service handle this breach properly or did it fail to provide adequate disclosure and notice to those affected? It depends on whom you ask, as Fox reports, and hopefully the investigation by Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General will get to the bottom of this one.

Disturbingly, this breach might never had been made public were it not for the recent Secret Service scandal involving the conduct of agents.  It was that investigation that led to the investigation of this other matter as part of looking into the culture of the Secret Service.

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