[ISN] FBI Probes Theft of Justice Dept. Data

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Fri Jun 3 01:29:32 EDT 2005


By Jonathan Krim
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 1, 2005

The FBI is investigating the theft of a laptop computer containing 
travel account information for as many as 80,000 Justice Department 
employees, but it is unclear how much personal data are at risk of 
falling into the wrong hands.

Authorities think the computer was stolen between May 7 and May 9 from 
Omega World Travel of Fairfax, which is one of the largest travel 
companies in the Washington area and does extensive business with 
government agencies.

Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said the data included 
names and account numbers from travel account credit cards issued to 
government employees by J.P Morgan Chase & Co. and its subsidiary Bank 
One Corp.

She said the information did not include Social Security numbers or 
home addresses that often are used by identity thieves to establish 
credit or to purchase goods in other people's names.

In addition, she said the account information was protected by 
passwords, although sophisticated hackers often can break into stored 

Omega World Travel officials declined to comment on how the laptop was 
stolen or other elements of the case, as did the FBI, which is 

The theft is one of a spate of incidents over the past several months 
that have resulted in sensitive data on millions of U.S. consumers 
being stolen or exposed.

In December, Bank of America Corp. lost computer tapes containing 
records on 1.2 million federal workers, including several U.S. 

Talamona said that no Justice Department worker has reported 
suspicious activity on his or her financial accounts since the 

The banks issuing the travel cards have placed alerts on the workers' 
accounts, Talamona said.

She added that Omega World Travel has agreed to several changes to its 
security practices, including beefing up physical security at its 
offices, conducting a computer security review and ensuring that the 
stolen computer cannot be reconnected to the firm's network.

The travel cards have not been canceled, Talamona said.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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