Texas Comptrollers' Office Posted Millions of Texans' Personal Info Online

By Tracey E. Schelmetic April 13, 2011

While news that a retailer or financial services company has had a data breach that put private consumer information at risk is pretty much a monthly occurrence these days, it would seem that the government isn't immune from data loss, either. In this case, however, it's not about theft, but about human error. The comptroller for the State of Texas this week began notifying millions of people that their personal data – including names, addresses and social security numbers – had been posted to a public server, where it was available for as long as a year, in some cases, reported Information Week.

“I deeply regret the exposure of the personal information that occurred and am angry that it happened,” said Texas comptroller Susan Combs in a statement. “I want to reassure people that the information was sealed off from any public access immediately after the mistake was discovered and was then moved to a secure location. We take information security very seriously and this type of exposure will not happen again.”

A criminal investigation has been launched by both the Texas state attorney general and the FBI. A state spokesperson told The Dallas Morning News that an unspecified number of people were fired after the breach was discovered on March 31, 2011. The breach was reportedly discovered less than two weeks ago when other folders were being scanned in the server.

The 3.5 million breached records include 1.2 million records, posted in January 2010, of education employees and retirees from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. In addition, 2 million records from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), which provides unemployment benefits to Texas residents, were posted in April 2010. Finally, 281,000 records from the Employees Retirement System of Texas, involving state employees and retirees, were posted in May 2010, said InformationWeek.

Data breaches, both accidental and criminal, are becoming more common as more personal information goes online. According to an InformationWeek article from July of last year, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) recorded 341 individual data breaches during the first six months of 2010, but hundreds more went unreported, said the organization. In addition, for 46 percent of breaches, the number of records potentially affected weren't disclosed, and for 38 percent, no cause was disclosed. The ITRC said that some states now harbor a “protected breach list” that is not made public at all, or is only accessible by exercising the Freedom of Information Act.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee

TechZone360 Contributor

Related Articles

10 Benefits of Drone-Based Asset Inspections

By: Frank Segarra    1/15/2018

Although a new and emerging technology, (which is still evolving), in early 2018, most companies are not aware of the possible benefits they can achie…

Read More

VR Could Change Entertainment Forever

By: Special Guest    1/11/2018

VR could change everything from how we play video games to how we interact with our friends and family. VR has the power to change how we consume all …

Read More

Making Connections - The Value of Data Correlation

By: Special Guest    1/5/2018

The app economy is upon us, and businesses of all stripes are moving to address it. In this age of digital transformation, businesses rely on applicat…

Read More

3 Ways to Improve Your VR Projects

By: Ellie Martin    1/4/2018

There is no denying that VR is here and will most likely only increase in velocity as a terminal speed is yet to be even hypothesized. That is why it …

Read More

Alphabet to See Schmidt Step Down

By: Maurice Nagle    12/21/2017

In 2001, Google brought Eric Schmidt on board as CEO. To 10 years later become executive chairman, and continue to serve in this capacity through rest…

Read More