When the National Archives lost a hard drive containing records from the Clinton administration, they also realised more than 100,000 social security numbers were missing.
The 2TB Western Digital MY BOOK external hard drive was found to be missing from the National Archive's complex in College Park, Maryland, on March 24th.
According to congressional officials, it contains political records, logs of social events and other gatherings, information about Secret Service and White House operating procedures and the names, phone numbers and Social Security numbers of White House staff members and visitors.
One of the individuals who has had her social security number potentially exposed? Former Vice President Al Gore's daughter.
Embarrassingly for the Archives, they acknowledge that at least 100 people had access to the area where the hard drive was left unsecured, including janitors and visitors.
And now, the administration is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the return of the missing drive. Hmm. $50,000 for 100,000 social security numbers? My gut feeling is that if the data fell into the wrong hands that it could be a worth a lot more than that.
There would be a lot fewer red faces if proper full disk encryption had been used on the drive - meaning that even if lost or stolen, no-one would have been able to make any sense of the contents of the drive.
More and more organizations are recognizing the need for proper encryption security on their disk media in case devices are accidentally lost or deliberately stolen - one would hope that this was a lesson that the body charged with handling some of the most sensitive secrets of past presidencies would also learn.
Those with information about the missing hard disk are invited to call the Secret Service at 202-406-8800.
Check out my May 20th blog entry for more background information....