Monday, February 05, 2007

Lost in the service

Yesterday I wrote about a new great feature of Vista—BitLocker. As we know, the daily loss of computers and data throughout the world is significant. In today's breaking news, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has launched an investigation into a portable hard drive that went missing, along with personal data on thousands of vets (how can things like this just go missing?). Last month, this hard drive disappeared from an Alabama medical facility. The hard drive may (and therefore probably does) contain personal data on as many as 48,000 veterans with more than 20,000 of them unencrypted. The hard drive was external and was used to backup an employee's computer.

"We intend to get to the bottom of this, and we will take aggressive steps to protect and assist anyone whose information may have been involved," VA Secretary R. James Nicholson said to the press on Friday...something that offers very little comfort to the 48,000 veterans whose personal information was compromised.

The VA also investigated reports last August of a theft of a desktop machine from the Reston, Va., offices of Unisys, a subcontractor hired to assist with insurance collections for VA medical centers in Pennsylvania. The agency estimated that the computer contained information on about 38,000 veterans, including 2,000 who were deceased.

The saga does not stop there—last May another external hard drive walked away--this time with personal information on more than 26 million veterans and active military personnel.

These people have risked their lives for our country and freedom—we need to keep their personal information secure. Microsoft should step up to the plate and make BitLinker available for all of us--including our veterans.


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