Nearly five million current and former soldiers and their family members had their data stolen from a military contractor in September, putting them at risk for identity theft. The lost information includes individuals’ names, Social Security numbers and medical information.
The data was saved on computer tapes that were stolen from a car belonging to an employee of Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a large military contractor that runs medical centers for soldiers and their families.
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“The employee was responsible for transporting the tapes between federal facilities in San Antonio, Texas,” Vernon Guidry, a spokesman for SAIC, told Credit.com.
The tapes contained the medical records of 4.9 million patients at hospitals and military clinics in the San Antonio are from 1992 through Sept. 2, 2011, as well as patients elsewhere whose lab work and pharmacy prescriptions were handled by San Antonio-area facilities, according to a written statement by Tricare, a Defense Department health care program.
Also included were patients’ addresses, phone numbers, lab tests, prescriptions and clinical notes. The tapes did not contain any financial information like bank account numbers.
To view the data, the thief would need have specific hardware and software, plus knowledge of the data system’s structure, making it unlikely that the information could be accessed or misused.
“There is no indication that the data has been accessed by unauthorized persons,” Tricare said in its statement.
Tricare plans to send letters to all the victims of the data breach over the next four to six weeks.
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Image: Edward N. Johnson for the U.S. Army, via Flickr.com