By Rebecca Boone
BOISE, Idaho - A small computer drive containing Social Security numbers
and other personal information about every Army National Guard soldier
in Idaho has been stolen, a National Guard spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The device containing information on roughly 3,400 soldiers was stolen
Monday night out of a soldier's car while she was traveling on official
duty, Lt. Col. Stephanie Dowling said. Officials hope the person who
stole the drive - along with other computer equipment and personal items
- doesn't know what he has.
Guard members were being notified by phone and mail.
"You name it, it was on there," Dowling said of the so-called thumb
drive. "Any time our soldiers' personal data get compromised in any way,
it's a big concern for us. We want to make sure that all of our soldiers
are informed and protect themselves."
On Tuesday evening the guard activated a phone tree normally used for
natural disasters or state emergencies to contact all the soldiers.
Sgt. 1st Class Travis Dryden of Boise was frustrated by the news. He
planned to notify credit reporting agencies and take other steps to
prevent any damage to his finances.
"It's a matter of how we fail to safeguard our technology assets,"
Dryden said. "Just a little shocking that that kind of stuff would not
be kept under closer, or more immediate, control."
The National Guard does not have a policy prohibiting soldiers from
taking computer storage devices away from offices, Dowling said.
"People need to do that as part of their job," she said. "Army-wide
we're in the process of encrypting all of our devices. But this wasn't
The National Guard should have done better, given recent attention to
data thefts from veterans, Dryden said.
Last year, Veterans Affairs lost data on 26.5 million veterans when
computer equipment was stolen in Maryland. In January, a VA hospital in
Birmingham, Ala., lost sensitive data on more than 1.5 million people
when a hard drive vanished.
Idaho Army National Guard soldiers are required to give their bank
account information to the guard so that all paychecks can be directly
deposited into soldiers' accounts, Dryden said.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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