US Secret Service Stored Backup Tapes on the DC Metro

The Secret Service was supposed to store its backup tapes offsite at an Olney Maryland location. But the Marylander they entrusted the job to get the tapes there left two backup tapes on the Metro. Then they tried to cover up their mistake according to the USSS Inspector General.

From Sophos here:

A contractor working for the US Secret Service walked onto a Washington, DC Metro train carrying two tapes full of extremely sensitive data. He got off at his stop carrying neither.

A few years later, the US Secret Service is under investigation for what’s being described as the “immense breach”.

The tapes contained personal information about all agency employees, contacts and overseas informants.

The extremely sensitive personal data included Social Security Numbers, home addresses, information about family members, phone numbers, dates of birth, medical information, bank account numbers, employment information, driver’s license numbers, passport numbers, and biometric information – all of which were secured only with “very basic encryption”.

The tapes were lost on the Red Line of the Metro in 2008 by a reportedly young, low-ranking employee of a private contracting company hired to transport them from headquarters to a secure vault in Olney, Md., where government agencies store contingency plans, documents and other backup material.

The employee volunteered to drop off the tapes because he lived near the vault, but he got off at the Glenmont, Md., Metro stop without the tapes

This is a major screw-up. From the description, this wasn’t just employee information. This was data from every employee’s extensive background check to obtain top secret clearances, including fingerprints. And you are supposed to hire a service to pick up the tapes and transport them securely to the offsite storage site, not hand them to a contractor who lives nearby. I wonder if the contracting company lost its contract?

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