California loses data for over 800,000 people

Losing your information can never be a good thing, but when it is the fault of an agency designed to keep your information safe, it is worse still. This nightmare has become a reality within the state of California. During a disaster preparedness exercise, the California Department of Child Support Services lost four storage devices. They're not sure where they lost them, either.

Physorg reported on the disastrous incident, which happened earlier this month, on March 12th. The department only acknowledged the issue on Thursday, March 29th. Somewhere between Boulder, Colorado, and Sacramento, these storage devices went missing, and there is every chance they could have fallen into the hands of individuals with malicious intent. These devices were in the possession of Iron Mountain and IBM when they went missing. Stored upon the devices is the following cheat-sheet to identity theft:

  • Addresses
  • Driver's license numbers
  • Names of health insurance providers
  • Employers for custodial parents
  • Employers for non-custodial parents
  • Children

You may be wondering why these devices were being moved. According to spokeswoman Christine Lalley of the Office of Technology Services, they were being sent to IBM as a disaster simulation. In the event of a disaster this was to discover whether IBM could run the Californian state's child support system remotely. Testing proved successful, and the cartridges were to be sent back. Iron Mountain provide secure transport for materials such as these for the state, barring one issue: they don't do flights. Incredibly, the data was sent through FedEx instead.

The current theory from which Lalley and the Office of Technology Services are working is that the container that these devices were stored in was not secure. Therefore, they must have fallen out... somewhere.

Those affected by the breach are advised to put a fraud alert on their credit cards, get copies of their credit reports, and take all other steps to protect their identities. On the plus side they have said that the incident will not have any impact on the processing of child support cases.

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