tampabay.com

TSA loses data on 100,000 workers

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published May 5, 2007


WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration has lost a computer hard drive containing Social Security numbers, bank data and payroll information for about 100, 000 employees.

Authorities realized Thursday the hard drive was missing from a controlled area at TSA headquarters. TSA administrator Kip Hawley sent a letter to employees Friday apologizing for the lost data and promising to pay for one year of credit monitoring services.

"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 wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the Associated Press. "We profoundly apologize for any inconvenience and concern that this incident has caused you."

The agency said it did not know whether the device is still within headquarters or was stolen.

TSA said it has asked the FBI and Secret Service to investigate and said it would fire anyone discovered to have violated the agency's data-protection policies.

In a statement released Friday night, the agency said the external - or portable - hard drive contained information on employees who worked for the Homeland Security agency from January 2002 until August 2005.

TSA, a division of the Homeland Security Department, employs about 50, 000 people and is responsible for security of the nation's transportation systems, including airports and train stations.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., called the security breach "a terrible and unfortunate blow" for an agency he said already suffered from low morale.

It's the latest mishap for the government involving computer data. Last year, a laptop with information for more than 26.5-million military personnel was stolen from a Veterans Affairs Department employee's home. Law enforcement officials recovered the laptop, and the FBI said no personal data had been copied.