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One Chart Shows Why You Shouldn’t Trust the Feds With Your Data

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We reported in January about the spike in government data breaches that has compromised the personal information of federal employees and citizens.

A report released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office shows that security incidents involving personally identifiable information more than doubled between 2009, when there were 10,481 such breaches, and 2013, when the number climbed to 25,566.

Collectively, the breaches affect hundreds of thousands of people and cost taxpayers millions of dollars. For example, in July 2013, hackers stole a variety of information, including Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and security questions and answers associated with more than 104,000 individuals from an Energy Department computer system. According to Energy’s inspector general, the costs of assisting affected individuals and lost productivity stemming from the breach could top $3.7 million, GAO noted. 

Among other problems, GAO noted that only one of seven agencies reviewed by auditors correlated an assigned risk level with breaches of personal information and none of the seven consistently documented lessons learned from their breach responses.  

Katherine McIntire Peters

Katherine is deputy editor of Government Executive Media Group, a division of Atlantic Media, where she oversees editorial coverage for GovExec.com and Government Executive magazine. She previously was executive editor of Nextgov.

Ross Gianfortune

Prior to joining Government Executive’s staff, Ross Gianfortune worked at The Washington Post, The Gazette Newspapers, WXRT Radio and The Columbia Missourian. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Missouri and a master's in communications from the American University.

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