Tape backup theft affects 4.9M active and retired military personnel

On the 14th September, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a contractor for the military contacted TRICARE, a healthcare system for active and retired military personnel and their families about a data breach. This breach has compromised sensitive data belonging to 4.9 million active and retired U.S military personnel. The data on the tapes; dates back to those who received care at the military’s San Antonio area military treatment facilities from 1992. This data breach was then made public two weeks after as TRICARE wanted to determine the level of risk to those affected.
“We did not want to raise undue alarm in our beneficiaries.” said TRICARE.
It is reported that the set of backup tapes were stolen from an employee’s car during transporting between federal facilities in San Antonio. The tapes contain sensitive data such as personnel names, addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers and personal health information. TRICARE insist that the tapes did not contain any financial information such as credit card details which will offer those affected little comfort.
Despite the large amount of data on the tapes not being encrypted, TRICARE class the misuse of this data as low.
“Since retrieving the data on the tapes would require knowledge of and access to specific hardware and software and knowledge of the system and data structure.” (TRICARE)
An investigation is now underway in hope of recovering the lost tapes. Vernon Guidry, vice president for media relations at SAIC stated “SAIC is working with the local police department, the Defence Criminal Investigative Services and a private investigator to attempt to recover the backup tapes,”
Such data breaches are common and do make you wonder why companies do not implement more stringent procedures to minimise the risk of such events occurring. Many companies still aren’t bothering to encrypt sensitive data and are increasing the likelihood of it falling into to wrong hands by transporting the tapes in an unsecure manner. The issue of data being compromised is set to intensify if current trends continue as according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a total of just over 3.2 million records containing personal data had been compromised in such incidents this year.

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