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Vulnerabilities / Threats

TSA Loses 100,000 Employee Records

Airport security organization loses hard drive containing personal information on workers

Every day, in airports across the country, they ask people to lose their keys, their shoes, and their belts. This time, though, the Transportation Security Administration has lost something of its own: a removable hard drive containing about 100,000 employee records.

The (TSA) Friday notified employees that an external hard drive containing personnel data -- including name, Social Security number, date of birth, payroll information, and bank account/routing information -- was discovered missing from a controlled area at the TSA Headquarters Office of Human Capital on Thursday, May 3. The data includes records of TSA employees from January 2002 until August 2005.

"It is unclear at this stage whether the device is still within Headquarters or was stolen," said TSA Administrator Kip Hawley in a letter to TSA employees.

"TSA has no evidence that an unauthorized individual is using your personal information, but we bring this incident to your attention so that you can be alert to signs of any possible misuse of your identity," Hawley told employees. "We are notifying you out of an abundance of caution at this early stage of the investigation given the significance of the information contained on the device. We apologize that your information may be subject to unauthorized access, and I deeply regret this incident."

During the weekend, extensive interviews were conducted as part of the continuing investigation for the missing hard drive, according to TSA. The U.S. Secret Service has been working with TSA since Friday morning to gather forensic evidence. "Measures are in place to alert TSA if someone attempts to use the hard drive," the agency says.

An update issued this morning by TSA said the investigation is "ongoing" and that the agency still has not found any evidence that the data on the hard drive has been exploited.

The agency warned its employees to keep an eye on their bank accounts and credit records. It also announced a benefit package to provide current and former employees affected by the data security incident with free credit monitoring for up-to one year. The package includes ID theft insurance up to $25,000, fraud alerts, and the services of identity restoration specialists.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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