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The Federal government cannot be trusted to keep your information secure. Period. One by one federal agencies are proving that they are not competent to handle sensitive, private, personal or confidential information. They should not be trusted with any information about anybody, anywhere, for any reason.

The recent wave of security breaches occurring under the Republican government cumulatively represent an attack on the identity and financial security of around 10% of the American population (so far this year). These security lapses and breaches have exposed taxpayers to a statutory minimum $26 billion in liability. Al Qaeda ain't got nothin' on that.

The trend-line of security lapses long ago passed from embarrassing thru unacceptable and inexcusable to criminally incompetent in some kind of geometric climb toward a Crime Against God And Humanity. There is considerable reasoned argument that we've broken the treason barrier several times and are now traveling at the criminal equivalent of Mach 4.

UPDATE [8/30/06]: It doesn't stop. I'll keep adding to the list.

UPDATE [9/11/06]: TSA: another $1,200,000.

Whereas 2005 was considered "the year of breaches" (Dan Caprio, the chief privacy officer at the Commerce Department), which included failures by ChoicePoint (a government contractor with billions of records on consumers) and the September hacking of National Nuclear Security Administration (? computers - the extent of that intrusion appears to remain unclear, but at least 1,500 personnel records were copied (no word on nuclear security information).

This is a partial list for 2006:

DATEORGANIZATIONRECORDS LOST
May 2006* Veterans' Affairs Department (?)26,500,000
May 2006Pentagon health insurance program(?)14,000
May 2006Internal Revenue Service (?)300
May 2006Social Security Administration (?)200
June 2006Air Force Personnel Center (?)33,000
June 2006Navy (?)28,000
June 2006Government Accountability Office (?)1,000
July 2006Transportation Department (?)133,000
August 2006Department of Education(?)21,000
August 2006* Veterans Affairs Department (?)38,000
August 2006Department of Education (?)43?
September 2006** Transportation Security Admin. (?)1,195

* The VA has been hemorrhaging private records so frequently it's unclear where one breach ends and the next one begins. There 16,000 records lost by the VA and not accounted for above because nobody has written when they were lost.
** "Making a mistake like this is abominable," said Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, an advocate for consumer privacy. "You've got an agency whose mission is security." (cite)

Under the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552(g)(4)(A)] these breaches represent a statutory minimum taxpayer liability of over $26 billion ($1000 per person). "Business Week says that the average damages for Identity Theft victims are $92,000.00 and up per person," (cite) which means potential liability equivalent upwards of 20% of US GDP, plus attorney's fees.

Head roll at AOL when there is a well-meaning and intentional violation of privacy and it is generally understood in the industry that  "having a very public security breach is the quickest path to the exit door for any (high)-level tech exec" (Gary Beach, publisher of CIO Magazine) But not so in the Republican government.

The culture of impunity is the bastard child of corruption and incompetence, which both sprang forth from the Gingrich Revolution fully formed with malignant intentions. This is not your father's Republican Party and there is no end to the abominations sired by this promiscuous mutant Republican philosophy.

From the outing of a CIA Operative from within the highest levels government to the (now routine) loss of laptops containing tens of thousands (or millions) of sensitive records on American citizens, I begin to doubt that this government could keep its hotmail password a secret.

With each successive security breach, to the internet or organized crime, this Administration seeks new and innovative ways to feed its lust for the power and status that knowing secrets brings. Daily we receive new demands for the new powers to use new technologies to spy on the American people. Sometimes it's the TSA developing consumer dossiers on every airline passenger in the world, or some other reincarnation of Total Information Awareness conjured up by the necromancers in the Old Executive Building. It might be Ashcroft or Ridge or Chertoff claiming that our borders can only be protected by implanting RFID chips in our fingerprints, scanning our iris' and submitting to colonoscopies (made necessary the arrest of the Butt-Plug Bomber).  And occasionally it's just the discovery that the military has been listening to our phone calls without the inconvenience of a warrant in direct, explicit and unambiguous violation of the three or four different articles of Constitution of the United States of America.

Experience suggests that each new database will be breached and records disclosed into the hands of identify thieves, fraudsters and counterfeiters. Each new breach will undermine the systems of financial credit that lubricate our consumer economy and the systems of trust and identity that make law enforcement possible.

And, inevitably, each outrage will be reduced to a relative misdemeanor as the Republican government pioneers new perversions of the Oath of Office.

Originally posted to opendna on Fri Aug 25, 2006 at 03:16 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  very disturbing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    opendna

    When you hear about these sort of thefts on almost a routine basis that follows the same pattern, you have to wonder just what the hell is going on. Apparently the money we're spending on 'security' is going straight down the fucking drain.

    Now where these records are going is a mystery to me, but something tells me these aren't all unrelated incidents. Too much is at stake here for these to just be 'coincidences'. Either scenario is really scary and inexcusable; either the government is so inept at keeping their own files that they are subject to rampant theft, or some element is stealing all of them for some other reason.

    Recommended, this hasn't gotten enough attention.

    •  I'm hesitant about a conspiracy... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      danger durden, possum

      (Thanks for the response, DD.)

      I thought about the possibility of a conspiracy to steal private records so as to build extra-legal dossiers on the American people. But the simplest answer is usually correct: run of the mill crime (fence a laptop, credit card fraud, etc).

      The diversity of MOs also discourages me from suggesting a consipracy.

      Generally speaking, we're talking about (inexplicably unencrypted) laptops stolen from homes and parked cars. I think most of the 26million VA records were on a single laptop. There are a couple incidents that apparently involve computers going missing from secure areas, and those are much additionally alarming for the implied compromise of facility security.

      Some of the cases involve hacking into servers (e.g. the Pentagon, Navy & National Nuclear Security Administration attacks), but the "Experts" seem to believe there's no accurate idea of how widespread that is. The Pentagon attack was discovered during a routine audit, long after the fact.

      So far it seems to be financially-motivated, else we'd be hearing about attacks against Health & Human Services (blackmail) and Offices of Inspector General (retaliation against whistle blowers).

      Not to say that organized criminal syndicates aren't conspiracies... they're just the same criminals who are responsible for protecting this information.

      •  or it could always be floozies (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        opendna

        who need to get their fix, so they steal laptops. it could very well be indicative of a societal drug problem that hasn't been seriously addressed.

        to interject my own personal anecdote, I had my laptop stolen a year ago by my own housemate who was addicted to oxycontins - synthetic opiates (heroin) for those of you who don't know - of all things. generally the MSM doesn't seem to take wind of this problem, but at prices of $60 an addiction can take a serious toll on one's finances, and detox can run up to several grand.

        thank god the kid was an idiot with computers, because he would have been able to find ways to get into my finances and steal my identity (didn't help that he forgot to steal the power cord). if I recall correctly, the laptop from the major VA theft back in May was recovered and none of the information was accessed, which would lead me to believe the drug fix hypothesis in that case. let's just hope these guys don't start putting two and two together because they'll realize that they have a much more valuable product than they already do.

  •  average Identity Theft loss = $92,000? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    opendna, danger durden

    Sorry to be a nitpicker, but that number seems way off (your cite source link didn't work).

    An average of $92K?  An average loss for high worth individuals perhaps, but even then questionable.  The average person that fell for phishing schemes in 2005 lost something like $1800.  

    Heck, if you take away house equity and IRA/retirement plans (hard to liquidate via identity theft) then most people don't even have $92K to lose -  even with bank accounts, lines of credit on new cards, etc.

    •  Thanks Vic & "what's up with $92K?!?" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      danger durden

      Fixed the link.

      The number refers to average liability for a company which loses control of an employee's personal information, which is then used to perpetrate identity theft. When it comes to liability, you have to include lost time, legal fees to correct the damages, higher rates from a higher risk profile, etc. It's more than just "how much did they get."

      Kinda like the $26B number: that's before that information is actually used for something bad. If the laptops were just stolen, erased and fenced, there would still be a $1000/person penalty.

      Phishing is small potatoes.

      I fyou can find a better number and link, I'll replace it. =^)

  •  What has me thinking each time ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    opendna

    Is trying to imagine the tractor-trailor trucks that would have been required to steal equivalent data just a few decades ago ... yet, easily on a laptop if not simply a memory stick.

    And, the legal liability implications -- this is a way to stick the Republican incompetence ... the $billions (if not $trillions) in legal liabilities that incompetent governance has created for all of us.

    By the way, what is the direct cost?  The VA-data has all of those involved with free credit assistance for a year. Not exactly free for the taxpayer.  What political appointee has lost their job over these $100s millions? ... Thought so ... you can't name it either ...

    4 July 2006, Independence Day ... Day 1757, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

    by besieged by bush on Sat Aug 26, 2006 at 08:32:11 PM PDT

  •  The Federal government (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    opendna

    Nice posting.......The Bush Administration could not get this information under law, so the next best thing is to lose it......then this could be picked up from the private contractor that just happen to find-- this info out in the public.

  •  I think Bush said it best... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    opendna, taracar

    ...with one of his Bushisms:

    "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." —President George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

    From the Southland? Join us at SoCalKossacks

    by midvalley on Sat Aug 26, 2006 at 10:23:05 PM PDT

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