JACKSON – The Mississippi National Guard is investigating a security breach that resulted in the online posting of personnel records of members of the Tupelo-based 155th Brigade Combat Team.
The information, including Social Security numbers, was online for several weeks before being discovered this month.
“Information management is working feverishly to get to the bottom of it,” Tim Powell, a spokesman for the National Guard, told The Associated Press. “We take this very seriously and are incorporating numerous layers of Internet security on our website.”
Powell said the website can no longer be accessed.
The National Guard and The AP were notified about the breach by Aaron Titus, information privacy director of Liberty Coalition, a Washington-based policy institute.
The institute runs the website, NationalIDWatch.org. Titus said the free site can be used to find out if anyone’s personal information was compromised.
The administrative records were compiled at various times between 2006 and 2008, including while the 155th was deployed in Iraq, Titus said.
The files contained 2,674 unique names and 2,672 Social Security numbers, he said. Other breached information included dates of birth, security clearance data, ranks and pay grades and home and cell phone numbers.
Powell wouldn’t confirm whose files were breached. The 155th has returned from its Iraq deployment.
The files had been online since Sept. 10, posted on the brigade team’s Sharepoint website, which was insecure and didn’t require a password to access.
He said during that month’s time the files could have been potentially viewed by anyone surfing the Web. However, he said odds are usually low for identity theft in such situations.
“It’s usually all or nothing. Either some guy found the information and is sitting on it or, it wasn’t found,” Titus said.
Though the Guard is investigating how the breach occurred, Titus believes it inadvertently happened when someone uploaded the files to a new computer system.
“I don’t think it was anything but negligence,” Titus said.
Shelia Byrd/The Assocated Press