March 4, 2010
Arkansas Times Blog |The Arkansas National Guard says personal information on 35,000 current and former Guard members (dating back to 1991) was contained in an external hard drive reported missing Feb. 22. There's no evidence that the device was stolen or being used for ill intent, but the Guard is alerting those affected of the potential for problems.
NATIONAL GUARD NEWS RELEASE
UPDATE: Arkansas Guard alerting Soldiers of data loss
~ Data search discovers approximately 35,000 current and former Guardsmen affected
CAMP JOSEPH T. ROBINSON, Ark. - A team of Guardsmen searching data known to be contained on an external hard drive that was reported missing on February 22 has discovered approximately 35,000 current and former members of the Arkansas Army National Guard are affected by the loss.
While the unsecure drive was originally expected to affect only a portion of the Arkansas Guard's current members, a single file discovered in the data has now greatly increased the total numbers known to be affected. A copy of the Guard's personnel database which contains information on all Soldiers who have served in the Arkansas Army National Guard since 1991 was found to be among the files known to be on the missing drive.
The Guard's Information Management personnel are continuing to work closely with the 39th Brigade to search the data in order to compile a complete list of all affected in order to begin the process of individual notification. The search is anticipated to continue through the week with notification letters produced over the weekend. Notification letters are expected to be ready for first class mail delivery early next week.
An Arkansas Guard Soldier reported the loss after conducting an exhaustive search to locate the drive when it was first realized as missing on February 15. The drive was a backup storage device used by the Soldier to archive work related information over the past six years.
The drive is said to include names, social security numbers and other personal information which potentially places the affected Soldiers at risk for identity theft. There remains no evidence to suggest the device was stolen or in the hands of anyone with bad intentions, however the Guard is continuing to make every effort to identify those affected in order to alert them of the potential data risk.
All potentially affected Soldiers are recommended to be extra vigilant and to carefully monitor bank statements, credit card statements and any statements relating to financial transactions since November 2009 when the device was last used. Unusual or suspicious activity should be immediately reported to the financial institution involved. Soldiers are also recommended to contact one of the three major credit bureaus if they suspect suspicious activity. Contact information for the three major credit bureaus as recommended by the Federal Trade Commission follow:
These organizations can also place fraud alerts on one's credit upon requestof the individual in order to receive an alert notification when new credit is applied for under his/her name.
This and other information on how to protect oneself from identity theft can be found at:
This inappropriate handling of our Soldiers' personal information is an isolated incident which is now under investigation to help ensure steps are taken to help prevent such an incident from occurring in the future. This incident has been reported up to the U.S. CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team), the National Guard Bureau and U.S. Army privacy authorities.