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U.S. Service Personnel Data Stolen 343

Posted by samzenpus
from the good-move dept.
BStrunk writes "I was reading the news this morning on Reuters, when I stumbled across this article: U.S. Service Personnel Personal Data Stolen In the article, an official violated policy by taking the detailed personal information of thousands of active and reserve troops to his personal home, storing it on a personal computer, that was later stolen. In an age where domestic phone calls are monitored, a government employee was allowed to walk out of a government installation with the data on thousands of American citizens to store on an insecure personal computer? Doesn't that seem strange to you? This is a real failure, in my opinion, in government protection of its citizens. Layers of encryption and protected access was successfully bypassed to make the theft of this information as simple as stealing a home pc. Now, not only do service personnel currently serving have to worry about IEDs and being fired upon, but they are now subject to possible identity theft. A real failure. After this, how could one have faith enough to serve an inept institution?"
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U.S. Service Personnel Data Stolen

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  • Strange question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stupidfoo (836212) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:10AM (#15486917)
    After this, how could one have faith enough to serve an inept institution?

    Why do we need all the editorializing in the blurb? And the troops don't serve an institution.
    • by thrillseeker (518224) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:17AM (#15486983)
      After this, how could one have faith enough to serve an inept institution?

      Why do we need all the editorializing in the blurb?


      You must be new here.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:22AM (#15487020)
      I agree, rants and opinions belong in posts, informative summaries belong on the main page. I don't go to slashdot to get raved at by someone who doesn't understand the difference.

      That being said, I agree this was a failure, but not of the U.S. governemnt. This was a failure by the analyist who didn't feel it manditory to follow the rules. Every good sercurity measure begins and ends with trust. The Office of Veteran Affairs was betrayed just the same as everyone else in this instance.
      • by Herkum01 (592704) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:04AM (#15487348)

        The Office of Veteran Affairs was betrayed just the same as everyone else in this instance

        I call BS, Veteran Affairs has consistently been given low grades in security. It goes back to a culture of "I don't give a damn". As long as the agency is not punished, publicly or privately, you can bet it will happen again.

        • by RingDev (879105) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:19AM (#15487469) Homepage Journal
          I call shenanigans on your BS. You can't pin this down on just the VA. As a former member of the military who worked in HQ MC and the Pentagon, I can assure you that given the proper motivation of any worker, this information could be leaked/stolen/sold.

          In this case the fault was negligence. The laptop should have had an encrypted hard drive. The consultant should not have taken the data home. But if the consultant shouldn't have taken the data home, why was he given a laptop? There were many mistakes made in this process, and those same mistakes are made throughout the government and private sector. The VA has no special claim on incompetence.

          -Rick
      • by jeepmeister (241971)
        This was a failure by the analyist who didn't feel it manditory to follow the rules.

        As an IT security engineer for a very large health maintenance organization, trying to prevent our physicians, administrative people and business oriented wonks from committing gross acts of security stupidity turns out to be one of the biggest challenges. Organizations need to drive hard to make sure employees are aware that putting sensitive information in positions of vulnerability will invariably lead to compromise t
      • by Himring (646324)
        In response to the "rant" on the main page:

        1. These were military personnel right? Referring to them as "American Citizens" is a stretch. Don't get me wrong. Hats off to our enlisted troops, but once you join the military you give up massive rights that a normal citizen has.

        2. My dad served in the army, and from my understanding, it is anything but "intelligent." "Army Intelligence" was referred to as an oxymoron....
    • After this, how could one have faith enough to serve an inept institution?

      Why do we need all the editorializing in the blurb? And the troops don't serve an institution.

      Why yes, yes they do.

      See, you might be enlisting because you want to aid your "country". This is an institution. You don't really think that they make globes by taking pictures of the earth, with convenient lines included, do you? About the only places you can see geographic borders is when one country has deforested itself and

      • There is a sane argument that a country is not its government, but its people. Somewhat quaint these days, I know.
        • It's a nice argument but it's bull pucky because we already have words for people; besides "people" we also have stuff like "population" and "populace". A country is a piece of dirt. The people in it are what make it worth living in, or not. Personally I think that it's time to leave this place... Shrub Jr. has brought us to the highest level of deficit ever, and the fastest growth, at a time when China is preparing to eat our lunch financially, not to mention squandering all international goodwill towards
    • Agreed. To serve one's country, no matter how inept parts of it are(and they are), is still quite honorable. Not that I would ever, mind you, nor do I support the war personally, but I support the troops and believe them to be honorable people.

      And they do not serve an institution, they serve the people, first and foremost, and the government after that. (Although, I'm sure it's the other way around in practice).
    • Excuse me? (Score:5, Informative)

      by vivin (671928) <vivin.paliath@gmaiLIONl.com minus cat> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:08PM (#15487903) Homepage Journal
      Now, not only do service personnel currently serving have to worry about IEDs and being fired upon, but they are now subject to possible identity theft. A real failure. After this, how could one have faith enough to serve an inept institution?"

      I'm in Iraq right now. Yes, we have to deal with IED's and being fired upon. And yes, having to worry about this isn't all that great either. But that has absolutely nothing to do with "serving an inept institution" as you call it. We don't serve an institution. We serve in the Armed Forces of the United States. I serve in the Army, and I don't think that the Army is inept. This isn't a failure of the US Army as a whole, but it was due to the indiscretionary act of one person. He violated OPSEC (Operational Security) and he had no business taking sensitive information into his personal computer. This is HIS fault, and I hope he gets prosecuted to the fullest possible extent under the UCMJ. So please, like the parent said, no editioralization is necessary. We serve because we took an oath. We serve because we are professionals. We serve because words like Loyalty, Honor, Duty and Courage mean something to us. It doesn't mean that it means nothing to a civilian. But I hate it when people assume we are nothing but mindless drones. I, personally, try to keep politics away from the military. Which is why I don't endorse any side of political debate, when speaking as a soldier. I'm here to do a job, and I'm here as a professional.

      Sorry for going so far off-topic.
      • Re:Excuse me? (Score:3, Interesting)

        This isn't a failure of the US Army as a whole, but it was due to the indiscretionary act of one person.

        If one person can do this kind of damage, then the problem is with the system, not just that person.
  • This happens all the time unfortunately. People's stupidity can circumvent and electronic security measures. But I'd rather have my identity stolen than my legs blown off by an IED.

    http://psychicfreaks.com/ [psychicfreaks.com]
    • And Washington wonders why EU refused to force air companies to give their customers bank informations...
    • by ackthpt (218170) *

      a government employee was allowed to walk out of a government installation with the data on thousands of American citizens to store on an insecure personal computer? Doesn't that seem strange to you. This is a real failure, in my opinion, in government protection of its citizens. Layers of encryption and protected access was successfully bypassed to make the theft of this information as simple as stealing a home pc.

      This happens all the time unfortunately. People's stupidity can circumvent and electron

  • Conspiracy? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by neonprimetime (528653)
    The burglary from the employee's home in Aspen Hill, Maryland, involved a laptop computer with an external disk drive, officials have said.

    2 things...
    1.) Wouldn't stuff this sensitive be encrypted if it's sitting on an external disk drive?
    2.) Is there some sort of conspiracy going on? With the terrorist arrests in California and Canada? Perhaps somebody is planning something big ... and it starts by gathering all the personally identifiable information they can get on us citizens? (first the vets data
    • (first the vets data was stolen, now this)

      This is the same incident. They are just now figuring out whose info is involved.

    • He wasn't supposed to take identifiable data out of the facility, and if he did, it was supposed to be encrypted. The employee ignored his annual data security training, and sufficient barriers don't exist to force the encryption. There is a major data security storm going on around here, and it serves no good to blame the government when it's One Damn Fool causing the problems by ignoring rules.

      It's like a postal service driver driving on the wrong side of the road, plowing into a family, killing everyon
    • I work for a British Government financial department. There is no technical reason why I couldn't copy this sort of data down from the *nix boxes onto an external hard drive and take it home. I'd probably end in court if I did - official secrets act and all that - and I'd certainly lose my job, but, in technical terms, no probs.

      As ever, with security, when it comes to sysadmins, you need to be able to trust the personnel, no only in terms of their integrity, but also in terms of their stupidity.

  • by hsmith (818216) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:11AM (#15486933)
    You could at least post the update that the Vet's are now suing the VA [baselinemag.com].
    • Great! What about suing banks that do the same thing. A bank that I don't even belong to anymore had the same thing happen. Some employee walked out of the bank with tons of personal info on his laptop, which was then stolen. Isn't it possible to sue these numbskulls?
    • The original event, the 26.5 million veteran records, may be old news, but now that has widened to encompass 2.2 million active members of the military, so this is hardly 3-week-old news. What it points to is a systemic problem -- why can't people keep sensitive data safe? The discussions here on Slashdot have gone on and on, with the consensus being that it seems stupid not to encrypt data, given the widespread availability of decent encryption software.

      If anything, this is going to prove a blow to the i

  • by foo fighter (151863) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:12AM (#15486935) Homepage
    There's a real fear that this includes classified disability info.

    If that info gets on the web, an employer googling a potential employee's name may see that candidate has, for instance, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and decide not to hire them. It's currently illegal to discriminate like that, but there's no way anyone will ever know in this hypothetical situation.
    • It's currently illegal to discriminate like that, but there's no way anyone will ever know in this hypothetical situation

      Other than the fact that it was reported that the data did NOT include medical information (I'll believe it when I see it), it can render the hypothetical situation unlikely. If they can easily access that data to hold it against you, maybe you can help paint the picture of discrimination by showing a courtroom how easy it was for them to find such information. Seize the company computers
    • New, from the makers of HIPPA -- Unsecured Information Fun! It's absurd to think that a "Veterans Affairs data analyst who had violated official procedures by taking the data home" caused millions of people to be at risk for ID theft or worse. It's 2006 -- he is an alleged data analyst, meaning he should know the risk of unsecured data. 1) he broke office procedure by taking the data home, 2) he left the data completely unsecured on a computer in his home. If this happened at a health-insurance-industry
    • Fortunately, he or she will always be able to get a job at the Post Office.
  • by SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:12AM (#15486936) Journal
    This is in addition to the identifying data of millions of Veterans stolen in the same event. They originally reported only Veteran data. Now it seems it contains active duty soldier info as well.
  • Ever vigilant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:13AM (#15486946) Homepage Journal
    TFA: Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said, "We want to encourage service members to be vigilant and carefully monitor their personal information and any statements related to recent financial transactions."

    Great, as if they didn't have enough to deal with. I can just picture some soldier under mortar fire in Iraq, trying to load a rifle with one hand while juggling a cellphone on hold with American Express in the other hand..
    • I can just picture some soldier under mortar fire in Iraq, trying to load a rifle with one hand while juggling a cellphone on hold with American Express in the other hand.

      I thought the war was running this way anyway? The soldiers probably buy their armament with their personal credit cards and then fill out an expense voucher at the end of the month. That would explain a lot of things.
  • Personal information on about 2.2 million active-duty, National Guard and Reserve troops was stolen last month from a government employee's house, officials said on Tuesday in the latest revelation of a widening scandal.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs said the information, including names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth, may have been stored in the same stolen electronic equipment that contained similar personal data on 26.5 million U.S. military veterans.

    Same crap, different day. The

  • And in other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by porkchop_d_clown (39923) <mwheinz&me,com> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:14AM (#15486956) Homepage
    Slashdot notices a month-old scandal.

    Thieves steal personal data of 26.5M vets [belleville.com]

    Theft of Data Leads to Firings [washingtonpost.com]
    • This may have made its rounds to Slashdot because Reuters just reported it as current news.
      Which in turn makes me believe it's not the same old, but an actual updated or new one.
  • by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:14AM (#15486965)
    The information is not classified, it's Official Use Only, which is a form of protected information. Personell records are usually, in part, execmt from freedom of information act requests, so they may enjoy a slightly higher level of protection than ordinary OUO.

    However, nearly every govenrment computer in existence includiung laptops has gobs of OUO information on it. It's not encrypted because it's not that sort of information. It's just controlled dissemination. That does not mean it might be harmless to release it but it's way below classified.

    It is not alarming the people occasionally accdentally disseminate or lose control of OUO. Employees are simply expcted not to do so wilfully or wantonly or carelessly. Its even permissible to share OUO with people outside the governemnt if the employee thinks it would be useful to do so. The fact that OUO was taken home is not a big deal.

    In this case the only big distinctions are the massive quantity of the information, and the fact that it's personell records which do have higher levels of protection. Apparently it was also policy not to take these home.
    • Did they ever find out why this official had the info on his home PC to begin with? What possible legitimate use could there be for info like this outside the office?
      • Goverment employees often contribute their own time to work on projects. This is a case of "no good deed goes unpunished." The guy was working on a project at home "unauthorized", his laptop and usb hdd get stolen, officals grandstand, and he gets fired at age 60 (perhaps without a pension).
        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:54AM (#15487268) Homepage Journal

          This is a case of "no good deed goes unpunished."

          Not keeping records of servicemen's personal data secure is a good deed?

          The guy was working on a project at home "unauthorized", his laptop and usb hdd get stolen, officals grandstand, and he gets fired at age 60 (perhaps without a pension).

          Fuck, I sure hope so. I hope he got fired twice somehow in a bizarre star-trek-ian causality loop. Anyone who would keep confidential data on a computer in a physically insecure location without encrypting it is a fucking moron. Fuck him in his working-at-home ear.

          Perhaps you didn't notice, but the entire federal government got failing grades on their infosec security report card. Are you really okay with that? By making excuses for idiots who cannot see their way to actually protecting confidential data, you are part of the problem.

      • Never worked at a business? When the COO absolutely *must* work on this project over the weekend, and needs HIPAA files on her personal computer at home, GOD FORBID the IT department say no to her!

        Although, what we set up is a VPN tunnel + Windows Remote Desktop. That's relatively secure, because at least the files never leave our physical premises, and the VPN ensures it's all encrypted properly. Of course, it also bridges our network with all the viruses and crud on these people's home computers...
        • I've worked at and managed businesses. Doing a little extra accounts-payable for Slappy's Bait Shop, Inc. or Roy's Gerbil Grooming, LLC. is one thing, but involving things like identifying info on this scale - for the US Military, no less! - is just mind-boggling, and the official had no business putting that much at risk for an extra half-hour of lunch or whatever.
    • The information is not classified, it's Official Use Only, which is a form of protected information.

      Apparently not. :/
    • 'Official Use Only' is about the level of security that corporations apply to data that is usually referred to as 'confidential' -- data that's not necessarily 'secret' but is still distributed to only those that need it.

      Even one company I've worked for would say that if this data were to leave a company facility electronically, including via laptop, that data must be encrypted.
    • Government control of this sort of information can often be very poor, because there are not business or contractual ramifications.

      I work for the federal government, and I often travel overseas with a government owned laptop. That laptop usually has export controlled (but unclassified) information on it.

      Whenever I do this I have to fill out many forms documenting exactly what is on that laptop. When I asked why, it was "so we know what was on it if you loose it - that would technically be an export, and w
  • Apples and oranges (Score:3, Informative)

    by operagost (62405) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:17AM (#15486980) Homepage Journal
    In an age where domestic phone calls are monitored, a government employee was allowed to walk out of a government installation with the data on thousands of American citizens to store on an insecure personal computer?
    Those are two separate issues. The proverbial apples and oranges come to mind. It's something like saying, "In an age where crackers are trading warez across P2P networks, people are allowed to have CD-RW drives in their computers?"

    Besides, domestic calls are not monitored without a warrant. Do you have a problem with that? Perhaps you are thinking of international* calls to known members of terrorist organizations.

    Doesn't that seem strange to you.
    Is that a question?

    * According to my phone bill, a call made from my house to another country is an international call.

    • "Besides, domestic calls are not monitored without a warrant."

      Depends on what you mean by 'monitored'. Are records of domestic calls being kept and stored in a database for potential future use? You betcha. Is this monitoring? Maybe. I think so.

      And the point that was being made in the editsummary is, AFAICT, that the US government is capable of monitoring domestic phone calls, and willing to brute force the issue with the telcos, but not capable of of preventing this kind of stupid human error.
    • If you're going to persist in making rational points, useful analogies, and reality-based insightful observations, you're at risk of losing your Groupthink Membership Card.
  • by file-exists-p (681756) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:18AM (#15486996)

    The only way to prevent most of that kind of leak is the infamous trusted computing. How can you prevent somebody to walk out of the building with critical files on his USB key without "secure hardware" ?

    • Trusted Computing is an application of encryption technology. If it's completely controlled by the owner of a computer system it can be a useful and powerful tool for security. It only is a problem for users if it's used against them by hardware and software makers, which is what many people fear will happen.
  • I've worked on military and government contracts. We had the same problems as every company does: employees/contractors/government personel taking home their work and working on it on their personal PCs. Regardless of the number of NDAs they sign, the computer security briefings they get, and the number of times they are told by management they do it anyway. Are they wrong for doing this? Of course! Will they lose their security clearance over this? Probably, depending on what their rank/GS level is.

    T
  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:19AM (#15487005) Homepage
    that most folks who go in the military don't do it to "serve an inept institution" or to serve an insitiution of any kind. Those who are serving for ideological reasons (even if "patriotism" only plays a small part in the decision) believe they're serving the country as a whole and the ideals it stands for. That's why we say "serving our country" not "serving the military."

    Everyone who has been in the service knows that there are always a few idiots up in the higher levels of the chain of command. Also that the civilian employees of the DoD aren't always interested in looking out for the interests of the military personnel that they are supposed to be serving. Dealing with the civilian DoD folks was a constant frustration during my time at Fort Bragg. Not that those folks are all bad, but the service they gave me when I was in the 82nd was second only to the service I get from the DMV -- surly and uncooperative.
    • Those who are serving for ideological reasons (even if "patriotism" only plays a small part in the decision) believe they're serving the country as a whole and the ideals it stands for. That's why we say "serving our country" not "serving the military."

      I understand the reasoning of people going in for ideological reasons, but they're wrong. You are NOT serving your country. Anyone who believes that working for the military is serving their country is only fooling themselves. Over $400B on this bullshi

      • but, as far as I know, the government is not only elected by the voters, it consists entirely of citizens.

        It may sound like a left-field libral statement, but working for the country isn't working for the "dirt" of the country, it's working for the people who make up the country. There are a lot of folks (at the local level in smaller cities at least) who do believe that this kind of service (serving as mayor, working for the Dept. of Building Safety) provides something useful to people. Even at the federal
        • but, as far as I know, the government is not only elected by the voters, it consists entirely of citizens.

          The problem is that there are citizens and there are citizens. The people who are in office are totally disconnected from the realities of everyday life - otherwise the minimum wage might have kept up with inflation. Also, if you think the government is elected by the voters, you clearly haven't been paying attention. Recounts were illegally terminated in both of the last two elections, and tens o

  • by dcollins (135727) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:21AM (#15487017) Homepage
    Don't worry, this is all fixed now, and can't possibly happen again. We recommend that you not dwell on past history, and move forward into the future. Your private information is completely safe with the government, we've learned our lesson.

    And that goes double for next time, too.
  • by Medievalist (16032) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:22AM (#15487019)


    "Who shall watch the watchers?" --Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis [wikipedia.org]

  • by Tim C (15259)
    From TFAS:
    an official violated policy by taking the detailed personal information of thousands of active and reserve troops to his personal home
    [Emphasis mine]

    He wasn't allowed to do it, he simply wasn't caught in the act and prevented. Reading the article, I see nothing about him having sought or received permission. Just because one is able to do something does not mean that one is allowed to do it.
  • The government already has your SSN, your mother's maiden name, and just about every piece of information someone would need to impersonate you. The only thing you have standing bewtween you and identity theft is the loyalty and competence of government employees.
  • by Doctor Memory (6336) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:43AM (#15487169)
    This follows on to the theft of several laptops worth of corporate employee data. Almost makes me want to open up a consumer credit protection business...

    Ernst & Young lose data on a quarter-million Hotels.com customers [theregister.co.uk]

    Ernst & Young (hey, there is a theme here!) lose information on Sun employees (including then-CEO Scott McNealy) [theregister.co.uk]. Also included were employee records for IBM, Nokia and Cisco.

    Wells Fargo proves it can play the game too [theregister.co.uk].

    And not to be left out, let's not forget Fidelity's loss of 200,000 HP employee records [theregister.co.uk].

    What's scary is that both Fidelity and E&Y audit other companies for security and regulatory compliance (including HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley)...
  • Any word on who this guy in Virginia was? I haven't seen him/her identified by name in any of these articles. It would be kind of ironic if the military is protecting the identity of the person who gave up the personal info on millions of soldiers and vets.

    How do we know it wasn't an "inside job"? We don't know if this guy is a criminal or just an idiot. I've heard that when you make something more idiot-proof, the world just makes better idiots.

    I have worked for tech companies that had various security and
  • re post rant: what do you mean "not only"?

    I think the service personnel are MUCH more worried about being blown up or shot, than "whoops my credit rating got a bit low". So much so that I don't think it really adds to their problems.

    Yeah it's a shitter but you can't compare someone using your name to apply for a credit card or a car loan, with being KILLED.
    • Deployed soldiers not only have to worry about their current condition, but they do worry about everything going on back home. The more worries back home, the more distraction from their current jobs, the more danger of making a mistake. Yes, I am a war veteran, so I know.

      Soldiers with close family back home should be okay, as they can just have someone else monitor their credit. Soldiers with no family and little access to the Internet should be worried. The VA should at the very least give each soldier an
    • Really, I think more 'active duty personnel' worry about there credit more. Only about 1/10th of the active duty soldiers are close to a war zone at any given time. I would assume the other 90% have a very very low chance of getting shot or other on work incidents. Very few people in the military are involved in the actual fighting, for the rest its logistics.

      And yes, If I were loading crates in an airplane all day in Virginia to be shipped to Iraq, and couldn't get a loan for a car / house, because someone
  • by AviLazar (741826)
    a government employee was allowed to walk out of a government installation

    This is very misleading. Considering it sounds like he took it in electronic format, there are a TON of ways he could have taken this home and I doubt people are strip searched everyday they leave the office.

    It is probably against policy to take these documents home without permission. So saying he was "allowed" to do it is very misleading...he was not allowed to do it, he was just a trusted employee who has security clearan
  • by mabu (178417) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @10:59AM (#15487312)
    People are focusing on the transgression of the guy putting this data on his laptop and taking it out of the building. In reality, you can bet the systems he was working on were networked and he could have accessed the data from his home directly. I'm not sure if there is a simple solution to this other than constantly making sure all data is encrypted wherever it is stored.
  • by portwojc (201398) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:02AM (#15487332) Homepage
    Actually this is the best thing that could have happened. A complete failure in a system, potential for identity theft, and involving current/past service men/women. I am one of those by the way.

    Why is this the best thing? Cause when troops are involved national pride actually works and things get done. People will flip out over this and they will finally fix it. Think of the children is first followed quickly by think of the troops. Now maybe they'll put the responsibility where it belongs. Squarely on the shoulders of those companies that deal with credit. Then I'll stop getting those calls for the new service that protects my credit and it only costs $14.95 a month. Make that free and actually go after these thieves instead of what they do now.

  • by GodInHell (258915) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:07AM (#15487372) Homepage
    After this, how could one have faith enough to serve an inept institution?"

    This is a common misstatement made by those who think joining the armed services is about service to the army, or the navy, or the president. Joining one of the U.S.A.'s armed services is about serving your country, not the individuals in control of it. It's about protecting your homeland from invaders. It's about getting a shot at the brass ring of U.S. citizenship through sacrifice. It's about putting yourself on the line for your brother, your friend, your mother, your future, etc.

    When I apply for a job in the states, I do so based on my ability to trust my employer to treat me responsibly. I would refuse a job that didn't pay well, or one where my employment would be degrading or unduly dangerous. Joining any military is a distinctly different sort of employment. It's an inherently dangerous job, one in which you can expect abuse from your employer, rigorous and painful training, and eventual combat duty.

    So, in short, while this article is certainly a sign that our government is abusing our troops, one should honor those who do so despite the obvious risks inherent in service. Rather than wondering who would serve, we should wonder who would treat so poorly those who give so much. We ought (as in a moral ought) to respect and honor those who risk their lives to defend our way of life. We ought (again, moral ought) to hold in deepest revulsion those who abuse them, or send out the troops over petty personal desires and greed.

    -GiH

  • by dwalsh (87765)
    "In an age where domestic phone calls are monitored, a government employee was allowed to walk out of a government installation with the data on thousands of American citizens to store on an insecure personal computer? Doesn't that seem strange to you."

    No contradiction here, both are consistent with each other. Either way, it is because you have no privacy in the eyes of the state.
  • by Quila (201335) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:10AM (#15487398)
    I've done work like this, writing software that works with various sensitive data, millions of records, maybe even one of you, and I've done it from home.

    However, my set of data was real data that was obfuscated, random names, SSNs, etc., generated, replacing the ones in the database. No real data was ever allowed to be exported off the database server, period. Only an SA could steal it.

    That this wasn't done is just gross negligence on the part of the organization.
  • by EQ (28372) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:14AM (#15487424) Homepage Journal
    "how could one have faith enough to serve an inept institution?"

    I didnt serve the Army - I served *IN* the Army.

    What I served was the American People, through their elected Commander in Chief, and the primary focus of the Oath I and others swear is:

    to Uphold and Defend the Constitution of the United States

    Second error bythe OP is the "institution" that lost the data was not the military per-se but the Veterans Administration, a cabinet level office that is seperate fromthe Army, Navy, Airforce, marines and Coast Guard,m etc.

    When will ./ editors have enough of the spin and editorializing - especially when its egregiously wrong as it is in this case. How about getting an editor with some military background instad of the usual suspects? A little bit if diversity might help ./ avoid posters like the originator who completely misses the point of the article and instead tries to spin it politically (point is veterans records were taken via a moron breaking security at the VA, not some anti-military screed that the OP tries to spin it into).

    There Plenty of libertarian geek veterns out there who post here regularly - Rob, grab one and add some diversity to the editorial clique.
  • Publish the SSNs ! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GlobalEcho (26240) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:14AM (#15487428)
    I know that in this case more than social security numbers were taken. But this is a good spot to say that I would like the US government to publish, for free download, a list of all issued SSNs and their associated names. Then the banks, insurance companies, universities and so on will have to stop pretending the damn things are secret.
  • by Momoru (837801) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:36AM (#15487649) Homepage Journal
    Someone stole a laptop. It would be wiped and sold on the street. 99% chance no one would be the wiser, the thief didn't know what he had. Now news comes out that there could be a laptop with tons of valuable info...thiefs all now look to see if they have the golden laptop! Another case where the news of the incident makes the problem worse. Lets make a big deal of this when someone actually knows they have this data and uses it for ill intent.

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