Tricare patient data lost in car burglary

My San Antonio, By Sig Christenson, September 30, 2011

A data breach affecting 4.9 million Tricare beneficiaries began when a government contractor left backup computer tapes in his car after parking it in downtown San Antonio one day this month. Science Applications International Corp., a Pentagon contractor, said Thursday the worker had been given the job of taking the tapes from one federal facility to another when they were stolen. A San Antonio police report said the tapes containing the sensitive information, including diagnoses and treatment information on beneficiaries in the Defense Department’s Tricare program, were left in the car for most of the day. The worker has been placed on administrative leave, but SAIC would not say if he was being paid. “It was his job to transfer the tapes in an expeditious manner between facilities, and that’s all we’re going to say at this point,” SAIC spokesman Vernon Guidry said.  Police said the car was parked at 300 Convent from 7:53 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 13. A stereo system valued at $300 and a GPS device were stolen from the worker’s 2003 Honda Civic, along with the backup tapes. The worker valued the data tapes at $100. Tricare had little to say about the incident, but Guidry said the tapes were being moved from one federal facility in San Antonio to another, “pursuant to contract requirements,” when they vanished. They were being relocated in hopes of finding a way to encrypt the data so the tapes could work with an operating system, Guidry said. The system used to back up information on the tapes could not encrypt data to federal standards. Guidry didn’t say if the worker violated a company rule in leaving the tapes in his car, but conceded “if they weren’t in the car, they wouldn’t be stolen.” But he said there was no evidence so far that “the data has been accessed by unauthorized persons.”

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