Navy withheld data breach information for more than a year

Union rep wants identity theft insurance for employees


The Navy waited 17 months before alerting employees at a California facility that their personal information -- including Social Security numbers -- had been compromised, according to a report in the April 2 edition of the Washington Post.

Someone inadvertently sent the personal data to three employees whose security access had already been suspended, the Post reported. That happened in May 2008, but the Navy didn't inform the compromised employees until October 2009. Post reporters learned of the incident through e-mail messages, but the report did not specify their source.

A total of 244 employees at the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center in Port Hueneme, Calif., were compromised, according to the report. An e-mail message dated June 9, 2008, from the Navy's privacy team leader, warned top officials that they had to inform the employees that they were at an increased risk of identity theft, due to the release of their information. It took the Navy more than a year after that to do so.

According to the Ventura County Star, which first broke the story, Rodney Raether, president of the National Association of Government Employees local in Port Hueneme, wants the Navy to provide identity theft insurance to the affected employees.

“Employees are at risk and face loss of reputation and then face loss of their security clearance for failure of command to act to protect them and to ensure that procedures are followed to make it harder for it to happen again,” Raether wrote in a letter to the Navy, quoted in the Star. “We ask that you see something is done rather than provide lip service and delays.”

The Star also reported that the three civilian employees who received the information had their security access suspended because they had failed to correct security problems they had been asked to deal with. The employees denied the allegations and said in formal grievance filings that they had been asked to correct several years' worth of accumulated security problems in only 10 months.

The reports were unclear on whether the three were civilian government employees or contractors.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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