Security Strategy, Plan, Budget

Devices lost containing data on 800K users of child support services

A number of unencrypted storage devices belonging to the California Department of Child Support Services went missing.

How many victims? 800,000, including adults and children who use the state's child support services.

What type of personal information? Names, Social Security numbers, addresses, driver's license numbers, health insurance identification numbers, and names of health insurance providers and employers.

What happened? The devices, which reportedly were being transported by Iron Mountain as part of a disaster recovery exercise, were lost March 12 while in transit from an IBM facility in Colorado to one in California.

What was the response? The state has begun notifying victims by mail and is encouraging them to protect their identities, through methods such as placing fraud alerts on their credit cards and requesting copies of their credit reports.

Details: There have been no reports of the information being misused, and the backup data, though unencrypted, was stored on cartridges that are not easy to read without using customized software and hardware.

Quote: "Because the devices are in a specialized format, we have no reason to believe, at this time, that the data have been accessed or utilized in any way," said Kathleen Hrepich, interim director of the department.

Source:, San Jose Mercury News, "Sensitive personal information missing on 800,000 California residents," March 29, 2012.

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