Computer system with sensitive personal information of about 246,000 Department of Homeland Security employees was stolen by three employees in the inspector general’s office for DHS. The information was revealed by three United States officials and a report sent to Congress a few days ago.
According to The New York Times, they planned to modify the office’s proprietary software for managing investigative and disciplinary cases with the purpose to market and sell it to other inspector general offices across the federal government. DHS and the United States attorney’s office for the District of Colombia are investigating.
Names, social security numbers, and dates of birth were among the personal information that has been stolen. During a raid in the spring, investigators seized a home computer of one of the suspects and found about 159,000 case files in it. But inspectors believe that the private information wasn’t their target, but that they actually wanted to use the data to facilitate the development and testing of their knockoff system.
The office of the inspector general, John Roth, in May informed several congressional committees with oversight of the Homeland Security Department and updates were sent in June and last week. The employees were not identified by Roth or the unnamed officials. Two employees have been suspended pending the results of the investigation. Roth’s office has stated in its report that it had seized all known servers and other devices potentially containing ex-filtrated data in the possession of the subjects.
During the last two years, data was stolen from several government agencies, among which the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the State Department and the National Security Agency. Probably the biggest case is the one from 2015 when hackers linked to the Chinese military stole records connected to more than 21 million government employees.
According to the report to Congress, acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke decided on Aug. 21 to notify affected employees who were employed at the department through the end of 2014 about the breach, USA Today informs.