Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Human Services describe their second data breach of 2009 as an isolated incident. They say the thief was motivated by nothing more than the street value of the laptop computer. But, whether that’s true or not, the thief now holds the lives of 500,000 Oklahomans in his hands.
The computer was stolen April 3 from a car owned by an Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) employee, and on the computer was a file rich in the department’s constituents’ personal information. The file contained the clients’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and home addresses.
OKDHS has sent notification letters to recipients of Medicaid, Child Care Assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, and Aid to the Aged Blind and Disabled. The letter alerts them to the possibility of identity theft, but assures them that the department feels the risk is very low because the computer was password protected. There has been no mention of encryption.
Last month an OKDHS welfare social worker’s records were found in an empty rental house after the employee was evicted. The files contained details of child abuse investigations, and included the names, Social Security numbers and other sensitive personal information of those involved.
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