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Ohio official loses a week's vacation for theft of tape

Drive stolen from car holds data on thousands of state workers and taxpayers

By Brian Fonseca
October 10, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - An Ohio state official must surrender about a week of future vacation time as punishment for not ensuring the security of personal data stored on a stolen backup tape holding Social Security and other personal data. The tape was pilfered in June from the car of an intern responsible for carrying data used by the Ohio state government's computer systems.

Jerry Miller, payroll team leader for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services' Administrative Knowledge System (OAKS) ERP project, was informed of the decision by department officials on Sep. 26, said Ron Sylvester, a spokesman for DAS. Miller accepted the penalty, Sylvester said.

Sylvester described Miller as a "stellar longtime DAS employee" and said he has been forthright in acknowledging his role in the "management glitch" pertaining to the stolen backup tape.

Last month, the state announced that an investigation by computer forensics experts at Interhack Corp. in Columbus, Ohio, had determined that the missing tape contained data on all 64,467 state employees, 19,388 former employees and 47,245 Ohio taxpayers.

The data breach is expected to cost the state upwards of $3 million.

Though the administrative services unit was responsible for the data, Sylvester said the tape was handled by a number of people from other state agencies.

"Part of the problem is [the data] was outside of any one single person's hands. There were people who were not full-time tasked to OAKS who were coming in from agencies doing data migration and testing and introducing data on the drive," said Sylvester. "We believe we had some contractors who continued to introduce data on the drive.

"One lesson that the state learned is that we need to throw more resources at security and privacy when we have an issue like that," he added

A third party brought in from Ohio's Office of Collective Bargaining investigated the incident and recommended the penalty, Sylvester said.

"The next time the state takes on a project of this scope, we're going to have people on the job whose major responsibility is just data security," he added.



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