United States government employees have been caught stealing students’ personal information to apply for loans, credit cards and set up new cell phone accounts, Daily Mail Online has learned.
Reports on breaches of staff conduct inside the Department of Education shows how workers stole social security numbers from a database while a man was fired for trying to look up President Barack Obama’s student loan records.
Cyber security campaigners warned that the failure to protect sensitive information because of ‘bureaucratic incompetence’ is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
Identify theft: Reports from the Department of Education revealed officials tried to steal social security numbers from a database while another was disciplined for trying to look up President Obama’s student loans.
Insiders involved in illicit breaches are often overlooked, simply because the public think hackers and cybercriminals are more often to blame, they said.
Lee Tien, senior staff attorney and Adams Chair for Internet Rights at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Mail Online ‘insiders are frequently part of the breach story’.
He added that entities – especially the government – need to uphold their duty to safeguard other people’s personal information. Berin Szoka, the president of Tech Freedom, insisted some of the privacy issues come from within the government.
‘As usual, the real privacy problem is government. Big Brother surveillance at the NSA is bad enough,’ he told the Daily Mail Online.
‘But bureaucratic incompetence can be far bigger problem. Failing to protect sensitive student loan data is just the tip of the iceberg of poor data security inside government.’
According to the documents – obtained by the Daily Mail Online through a Freedom of Information Act request – a number of government employees set up an illicit scheme to steal students’ information.
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