Data breaches are becoming more common for a number of reasons, but even despite a number of technological advances in recent years, one of the biggest causes of these incidents is still the fact that some workers with access to sensitive information abuse that privilege.
That was the case in a recent data breach with the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, as an employee was recently charged with 11 felony counts of computer trespass and one misdemeanor count of official misconduct, according to a report from the state Inspector General’s office. Between December 2012 and January 2013, Patricia Bourne accessed the records of an individual she knew, telling officials later that it was done as a favor to another friend.
“We entrust our employees who have access to personal information with the critical task of safeguarding the privacy of New Yorkers,” said New York Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott. “What allegedly occurred here was an abuse of that trust. My office stands ready to investigate and prevent such misconduct across the state so that all New Yorkers can be confident that the State of New York protects their personal records with diligence, vigilance and effectiveness.”
Bourne worked at the state DMV for about 20 years and admitted that she was not authorized to access those records, the report said.
This case may have only affected one person, but it shows how easy it is for people to access sensitive information held by government agencies or companies despite not having a legitimate reason or authorization to do so. A recent case in Minnesota saw a government worker access similar records for no particular reason other than simple curiosity, and victims of this breach included women, state officials including judges and prosecutors, law enforcement officials and journalists.
Consumers can be affected by data breaches and other types of identity theft at any time, and for this reason it’s vital that they keep close tabs on their financial accounts and information, including their credit reports, credit card bills and bank statements. Doing so will allow them to determine whether any fraudulent transactions have been made in their name, or bogus accounts opened without their permission.