Despite all the worries about on-line hacking, paper based identity theft is still appears to be the most prevalent. Criminals do what is easiest—there’s nothing much easier than going through the garbage at likely targets.
Along those lines, in a recent article in FCW: The Business of Federal Technology, Stephen Warren, Acting Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology at the Department for Veterans Affairs cited paper based compromises as the leading cause of data breaches at the VA.
Warren briefed reporters Aug. 8 on the data breach reports his agency submitted to Congress for April, May and June, and stated that while theft of electronic devices containing patient information is rare and “holding steady,” upwards of 98 percent of data breaches continue to involve “physical paper.”
Problematic paper records include documentation misplaced, mishandled or improperly mailed by agency employees – VA’s data breach report over the three-month period suggests such mistakes happen hundreds of times per month. In many such cases, a veteran’s claim – containing Social Security numbers, address, compensation and pension claim ratings – is exposed publicly or sent to the wrong veteran.
Warren offered the reassurance that patients that experience privacy issues are frequently offered credit protection services from VA.
Over the three-month period, no data breaches were classified as high risk, and most were rated as low risk.
Taking a lesson from the VA, whether it’s a government entity, a private business, or personal paperwork, best practices recommend it’s always a good idea to have systems in place to properly handle confidential paperwork. When discarding, shredding and recycling is often the simplest and most secure.
For more on secure document destruction please visit www.hvshred.com