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TSA hard drive goes missing; 100K worker records at risk

'Unclear whether device is still within HQ or stolen,' says agency

May 4, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The federal agency responsible for securing the nation's airports said today that it can't find an external hard drive packed with the personal records of about 100,000 current and former employees.

Authorities at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) noticed the drive missing yesterday, but aren't certain where it is. "It is unclear at this stage whether the device is still within headquarters or was stolen," the agency said.

Assuming that the drive was in fact stolen -- it went missing from what was called a "controlled area" at TSA headquarters in Washington -- officials have asked the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service to investigate.

Records of workers employed by the TSA from January 2002 until August 2005 were on the drive. The data included names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, payroll information, bank account numbers, and routing information for direct deposit of paychecks.

TSA, a four-year-old division within the Department of Homeland Security, is best known for screening passengers at airport terminals.

This is not the first employee data incident at TSA. Last September, it told about 1,200 former workers that a contractor may have mailed their Social Security numbers and birth dates to wrong addresses.

Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.

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