DNR names, Social Security numbers are missing

May 3, 2007

By Candus Thompson, Sun Reporter


A thumb drive containing the names and Social Security numbers of about 1,400 past and present employees of the state Department of Natural Resources is missing and presumed lost.

The miniature computer storage device, used by an employee of the agency's Information Technology unit to take work home with him, was reported missing about a week ago, said Eric Schwaab, DNR deputy secretary.

Those whose information was lost -- primarily law enforcement officers -- were told of the security breach by telephone and were given written updates, Schwaab said.

Natural Resources police conducted an investigation, which concluded yesterday.

"We had no reason to believe and still have no reason to believe it [the drive] has fallen into the hands of an identity thief," said Schwaab, a former officer. "In all likelihood, it fell between bus seats or onto the sidewalk and is lost."

Officers contacted declined to comment, saying they feared retribution. But all of them said they could not recall a security breach of this magnitude.

As a result of the incident, DNR is reviewing its security policy. Schwaab said he could not talk about whether the employee was disciplined, citing state personnel rules.

'"Obviously, you would rather not have an employee walking around with that kind of information in his pocket," said Schwaab. "But this was a guy working at home at night and on weekends to get his job done."

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