Weibrecht Law in New Hampshire recently submitted a notification to their state with this explanation of their breach:
On or about Monday September 10th, our office sent an unencrypted electronic copy (“thumb drive”) of a client file via US Postal Service. The envelope that the thumb drive was sent in was received by the recipient, damaged and without the thumb drive enclosed. We immediately contacted the USPS to investigate.
Okay, so far that sounds really familiar, right, although why entities would still send unencrypted thumb drives thru postal mail in 2018 is a bit disheartening. In any event, their report continues (with emphasis added by me):
A representative from our office spoke with a representative in the Claims and Inquiries Department of the USPS in Manchester, NH and learned that all items recovered from the mail processing center are sent to her department. She reported that because this was a common occurrence, she had several buckets of thumb drives that had similarly been torn free from their envelope in the mail sorting process.
Buckets of thumb drives? The possibilities are staggering.
She did a visual review for the USB but did not find it. She also reported that the USPS has its own internal privacy policies that would preclude an employee from actually opening any of the USBs that are recovered.
And we know that employees always rigorously adhere to policies, right?
Based on this information, we do not have reason to believe the information has been accessed by individuals intending to misuse it. In fact, our investigation indicates that the most likely disposition of the thumb drive was that it was destroyed in a post office mail processing machine.
Complete the “write your own misdadventure” starter above.
The law firm has taken steps to provide protective and remediation services and is changing their procedures for sending files, but how much time, money, and potential reputation harm could they have avoided by encrypting files during file transfer?
These lessons are so costly and painful for SMB. I wish we could help more entities avoid having to learn them.