NARA suffers data breach

Investigation under way into missing hard drive with personal information

An external hard drive with personally identifiable information from the Executive Office of the President during the Clinton administration is missing from a National Archives and Records Administration facility near Washington, government officials have said.

The missing device has copies of electronic storage tapes with data about White House staff members and visitors from the Clinton era, and the amount of personal information missing isn't known, NARA said in a statement released May 19. The agency's inspector general is investigating the incident. Officials said staff members confirmed that the hard drive went missing in early April, and they subsequently informed agency officials, the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team and Clinton's representative.

NARA also said it will issue a breach notification to people affected by the loss, and it has reviewed its internal controls and improved security processes.

NARA's IG briefed staff members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee May 19, and Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), the committee's chairman, and ranking member Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said they would pursue the issue.

“I am deeply concerned about this serious security breach at the National Archives,” Towns said. He plans to hold separate briefings for committee members with NARA's IG and the FBI so they can “begin to understand the magnitude of the security breach and all of the steps being taken to recover the lost information.” Towns said the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation into the matter.

Issa's office said the missing drive contains 1T of data with "more than 100,000 Social Security numbers (including Al Gore’s daughter), contact information (including addresses) for various Clinton administration officials, Secret Service and White House operating procedures, event logs, social gathering logs, political records and other highly sensitive information."

“This egregious breach raises significant questions regarding the effectiveness of the security protocols that are in place at the National Archives and Records Administration,” Issa said. He also called on Adrienne Thomas, NARA's acting head, to testify about the incident during a hearing the committee’s Information Policy, Census and National Security Archives Subcommittee plans to hold May 21.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

Featured

  • FCW PERSPECTIVES
    sensor network (agsandrew/Shutterstock.com)

    Are agencies really ready for EIS?

    The telecom contract has the potential to reinvent IT infrastructure, but finding the bandwidth to take full advantage could prove difficult.

  • People
    Dave Powner, GAO

    Dave Powner audits the state of federal IT

    The GAO director of information technology issues is leaving government after 16 years. On his way out the door, Dave Powner details how far govtech has come in the past two decades and flags the most critical issues he sees facing federal IT leaders.

  • FCW Illustration.  Original Images: Shutterstock, Airbnb

    Should federal contracting be more like Airbnb?

    Steve Kelman believes a lighter touch and a bit more trust could transform today's compliance culture.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.