Business is Not The Only Source of Data Breaches

We hear a lot about data breaches of businesses.  Target.  Home Depot.  Anthem Blue Cross.  21st Century Oncology and thousands of others.

But there is a whole other category of breaches.  Government.  At all levels from local to national.  Everyone remembers the OPM’s loss of 20+ million security clearance background checks.  Or the IRS’s loss of millions of tax returns.  These breaches are happening more frequently in government for the same reason they are happening more often in private industry – because there is more data being stored electronically.

And it is not only the federal government that is affected.  Here are some breaches.

Minnesota’s Mille Lacs county settled a $1 million class action lawsuit after a now former employee illegally accessed driver’s license records.

Three years earlier Rock County Minnesota paid $2 million to settle a suit after an employee accessed the same database illegally.

In 2013 the Maricopa County Community College District paid $26 million to settle lawsuits and deal with a hack of their data.  $9.3 million in attorney’s fees,  $7.5 million in network upgrades and $7 million to notify victims and pay for credit monitoring.

In 2014 Health and Human Services fined Skagit County, Washington $215,000 for posting protected health information of around 1,600 people on a public server.

We hear about government data breaches all the time.

Ultimately, this paid form 100% with your tax dollars because, for the most part, government entities are self insured and even those that are not likely don’t cyber breach insurance.

In part this is due to the fact that the government doesn’t use modern technology.  The system breached at the OPM was built in the 1960s.  Yes, you read that correctly.  While that is a bit extreme, both the IRS and FAA have systems that date back 30, 40 or more years. Those systems were not designed with the Internet in mind.

While there is not a lot that we as taxpayers can do, we can certainly participate in the governing process and ask our elected officials very pointed questions.  Since politicians typically do not like to be the center of attention – and even those that do don’t want to be the point of attention when the news is bad, shining a bright light on things may be effective at causing change.

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