Lost Laptop Follies, Part 3

by on November 3, 2006 · 6 comments

In recent blogs, I’ve been documented the troubling reports of government losing laptops and compromising private information. And as I mentioned in another report, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), the Chairman of the committee, has introduced H.R. 6163, the “Federal Agency Data Breach Protection Act” to try to get this problem under control, although the legislation would really do nothing of the sort.

Sadly, there’s more news to report on this front.

(1) Government Computer News reports that:

* “The Army’s Accessions Command in Ft. Monroe, Va., reported a laptop computer with personal information on 4,600 scholarship applicants for the Reserve Officer Training Corps went missing Oct. 23. The command just yesterday let the House Government Reform Committee know that the notebook went missing. The committee asked all agencies to report all data breaches since Jan. 1, 2003. Agencies had until July 24 to report their information, but the committee still is receiving reports of data breaches. Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman, said the data was password protected using the Common Access Card. This means whoever allegedly stole the laptop would need the card and the user’s personal identification number to access the computer. However, the data itself was not encrypted.”

(2) The Los Angeles Times reports that:

* “The Department of Veterans Administration confirmed Thursday that a computer containing the personal data of military veterans was stolen from the agency’s Manhattan hospital. VA spokeswoman Jo Schuda said the laptop computer, used to measure pulmonary function, was stolen from a locked room in a locked hallway at the VA hospital. The theft occurred Sept. 6, but VA officials sent out a letter to veterans only within the past two weeks. The personal data of about 1,600 people was on the computer’s hard drive. It was the third theft of personal data from a VA facility in less than a year.”

(3) Federal Computer Week reports that:

* “Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) says agencies may be underreporting their computer thefts…. Davis said he wonders if the agencies were “lucky, good or maybe…incomplete in their reports.” “Congress and the public wouldn’t have learned about these events unless we went proactively at the information,” he said. “This history of withholding events needs to stop.” He added that he would follow-up with agencies that reported few thefts to ensure that they properly reported losses.”

Not a pretty picture.

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