IRS Employee Takes Home Thumb Drive With Data on 20,000 Colleagues

Rena Schild/

Federal workers' information may have been compromised.

An employee of the Internal Revenue Service took home a thumb drive with details on some 20,000 colleagues at the agency, Bloomberg reported this week.

An inspector general report from last fall warned that a data loss prevention system designed to detect and prevent potential unauthorized transfers of information “was not in place.”

The information on the thumbdrive dated to 2007, "before the IRS started using automatic encryption,” Bloomberg reported.

Tax agency officials were told of the breach “a few days ago,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a message to employees. Personnel were notified on Tuesday.

The Social Security numbers, names and addresses of employees and contractors were potentially made public, because the thumb drive was plugged into the worker’s “unsecure home network,” Koskinen’s message added. IRS systems holding data on hundreds of millions of taxpayers were not affected, according to Bloomberg.

Read the rest of this story at ThreatWatch, Nextgov's regularly updated catalog of data breaches successfully striking every sector of the globe, as reported by journalists, researchers and the victims themselves.

(Image via Rena Schild/