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U.S. Federal Agencies Lose Data To Hackers

People trust the federal government to keep their personal information secret but if it fails, where do they go? At least 19 federal agencies experienced security violations since January 2003, according to the 'House Government Reform Committee" report. There were 788 cases where the confidential data of people was either stolen or lost. The report named "Agency Data Breaches" said that the problem is not restricted to the 'Department of Veteran Affairs' alone or any one agency.

In many instances, the agencies were not aware of what information was lost or how many individuals were affected by a specific data loss. Also, agencies were not effectively tracking the possible losses increasing chances of incomplete reports to the committee.

According to the committee, some of the data breaches were a result of hackers intruding into online systems. . However, most of the data losses were from physical stealing of portable computers, drives and disks, or non-permissible use of data by employees. There was another source of data breaches. This was the private sector contractors on whom federal agencies depend for 'information technology management services'.

A number of serious problems arise from misuse of Internet resources. At 'Interior' during the course of a single week, the 'Office of Inspector General' (IG) identified more than 1 million entries showing 7,763 department system users spending 2,400 hours on surfing game and auction sites. These breaches have created a virtual treasure bank of U.S. citizens' most confidential data for identity thieves. Chief privacy guard for the 'American Civil Liberties Union' Barry Steinhardt criticized the United States government to be very careless with the data it accumulates.

Situations make it imperative for the government to integrate its actions without losing time. If the data of residents including veterans is so easily vulnerable to theft, it won't be surprising if the malicious hackers access information at the top levels such as government. National defense is not just limited to trained soldiers on the border, satellites keeping watch on enemies, or air jets flying in the sky but also maintaining safety and security of the Internet.

Related article: U.S. Businesses Lose $712 Per Worker Due to Spam

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