Sunday, June 26, 2005

Wired: 5.5 million personal records lost or stolen this spring

Millions of Americans had their personal identity information stolen or lost in the last few months from a handful of government and corporate sources, demonstrating anew the danger of aggregating personal data into huge, central databases.

According to Kevin Poulsen in
Wired magazine's July issue (p. 32, not presently online), this year an astonishing 5.5 million records of Americans' personal information including social security numbers and credit reports, were stolen or went missing. About 80% of those losses stemmed from just eight entities that lost information between February 25 and May 2, only one of which, LexisNexis, is a major information aggregator. More than 2 million missing records stemmed from confirmed invasions by hackers or thieves bent on facilitating identity theft. The rest were the result of carelessness, lost backup tapes, etc., where the information may or may not have wound up in the wrong hands.

The eight institutions from whom data was stolen or went missing include corporate and academic icons:

  • Ameritrade, 200,000
  • AOL Time Warner, 600,000
  • Bank of America, 1,200,000
  • UC Berkeley, 98,000
  • DSW Shoe Warehouse, 1,500,000
  • LexisNexis, 310,000
  • Polo Ralph Lauren, 180,000
  • San Jose Medical Group, 185,000
But the Texas Department of Public Safety will never lose Texans' biometric information, right?


Catonya said...

more taser happy cops. or maybe they're just lazy... said...

Goodness, there is a great deal of effective data in this post!