News for Public Officials and the People They Serve

Government Agencies Exposed 94 Million Americans to ID Theft and Worse

Government agencies at the local, state and federal level are becoming ever more proficient at exposing our personal data to identity thieves, putting more and more of us at risk with each passing year according to a recent report.

According to ABC News, the newly released  report by Rapid7 is based on the list of data breaches over the past three years compiled by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit privacy advocacy group. Exposing sensitive data of 94 million people is like releasing the personal data of every man, woman and child in California, Texas, New York, and Ohio.

Don't Blame Hackers

Plain and simple stupidity and negligence on the part of some federal, state and local agencies were at the core of most of the breaches. Premeditated attacks by hackers accounted for only 40 breaches since 2009, a mere 15 percent of the total.  The greatest number of reported data breach incidents occurred when government employees, officials and vendors inadvertently disclosed citizens' private information by posting it on a public website or sending it to the wrong people.

As Bad As It Is - It's Getting Worse Every Day

In the first five months of 2012, government agencies have more than doubled their totals from last year, reaching 9.6 million. Who knows where we'll be by the end of the year -- or how many innocent people will be exposed to fraud and identity theft due to the negligence of government employees or third-party vendors?. And these are just the breaches we know about. In some states, government agencies are not legally required to publicly report data breaches, or to notify potential victims that their personal information has been exposed.

Bottom Line

We hear a lot of genuine, well-grounded concern about the growing number and sophistication of hacker attacks. But based on the information contained in this report, while hackers are partially to blame, the sad truth is that our own government's electronic security policies -- or lack thereof -- have put us all at risk.

How Criminals Use Government Websites

Identity fraud isn't the only crime that criminals may commit as a result of  information they gain from government websites. News for Public Officials has documented government data breaches that have aided murderers, stalkers, terrorists, criminal cartels, foreign agents and  identity thieves since the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer in 1987. Read Criminal Links to Government Web Sites


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read these articles:

County level security breaches aiding ID thieves, stalkers and terrorists

Data Breaches in the Government Sector (Rapid7)


Posted 10-03-12

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