Monday, October 5, 2009

US. Government Suffers 'Largest Release Of Personally Identifiable Information Ever'

Via Dark Reading -

A defective hard drive containing the personal information of some 70 million U.S. military personnel was returned to a contractor for repair and recycling -- without being erased first, according to a news report.

According to a report in, the inspector general of the National Archives and Records Administration is investigating a potential data breach of a hard drive that helped power eVetRecs, the system veterans use to request copies of their health records and discharge papers.

When the drive failed last November, the agency returned the drive to the contractor, GMRI, which sold it to them, for repair. GMRI determined it couldn't be fixed, and ultimately passed it to another firm to be recycled. But Hank Bellomy, a NARA IT manager who reported the incident to the inspector general, told that the drive was not properly erased.

"This is the single largest release of personally identifiable information by the government ever," Bellomy told "When the USDA did the same thing, they provided credit monitoring for all their employees. We leaked 70 million records, and no one has heard a word of it."

NARA says the lost drive is not a problem because its contractors signed privacy promises in their contracts. A spokesperson told that the agency "does not believe that a breach of PII occurred," according to the report.

The drive was part of a RAID array of six drives containing an Oracle database that held detailed records on 76 million veterans, including millions of Social Security numbers dating to 1972, the report says.


While the DoD clearly didn't follow its own data wiping process here...and for that it should be shamed / punished. But what are the real chance of this date leaking?

In my mind, they are small. What do you think?

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