By definition a security breach is any external act that bypasses or contravenes security practices, policies or procedures, (“Security Breach”, n. d. ). A security breach exposes personal information including social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, birthdates and various other pieces of account information which makes identify theft possible and violates a person’s inherent right to privacy. According to the Federal Trade Commission, approximately nine million Americans are victims of identity theft each year, (Federal Trade Commission).
The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent apartments, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make – or until you are contacted by a debt collector, (Federal Trade Commission, 2). ” Identity thieves utilize a variety of methods to gain access to a person’s accounts including online phishing, skimming and other illegal actions which give them vital information.
But identity theft is not the only way that accessing vital information violates victims across the country. Presidential candidates and Senator Hilary Clinton, Barrack Obama and John McCain understand firsthand how security breaches can violate privacy right in the United States. Two contract employees for the State Department were fired and a third disciplined after inappropriately accessing the passport files of all three candidates in March of 2008, (Rhee, 2008). Spokesman Sean McCormack said the department itself detected the instances of ‘imprudent curiosity,’ which occurred separately on Jan. 9, Feb. 21, and March 14. He would not release the names of those who were fired and disciplined, (Rhee, 2008, p. 4). ” Although officials at the State office assert the security breach was not political an investigation was initiated. The information that was accessed would allow for deeper penetration of the senators private lives.
In addition to address and all of the foreign countries the candidates had been to the files contained their social security numbers which could be used to access credit reports and other personal information. The Internal State Department detected the violations because people of high interest in the United States have accounts which are flagged by computers and supervisors are alerted when someone tries to access tagged accounts. ’This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an Administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years. Our government’s duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes.
This is a serious matter that merits a complete investigation, and we demand to know who looked at Senator Obama’s passport file, for what purpose, and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach,’ Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said, (Rhee, 2008, p. ). ” The information breach was handled appropriately, (Tapper & Radia, 2008). Although the computer monitoring system was installed several years ago to detect such breaches, senior officials at the State Department said they had only learned of the Obama breach from a reporter asking for comment. “’It should have been passed up the line,’ said Undersecretary of State Management Pat Kennedy. ‘They failed to pass the information up the chain to a sufficiently high level, (Tapper & Radia, p. 1). ”
The initial investigation into the matter concluded that the employees were simply curious and accessed the files for no political reason. The contract company officials, in which the names of the companies have not been disclosed, said that curious employees often access the files of various celebrities out of curiosity. When this happens the employee is either disciplined or fired. In this case the three employees had access to the information via three separate offices in Washington DC and represented three separate contract agencies.
Two employees were fired long before the news media got wind of the security incident and the third employee no longer has access to passport files. Investigators do not believe that any of the violators accessed the information as part of a terrorist initiative or for political gain. However, in 1992 then Senator Bill Clinton’s passport information was accessed to dig up his American citizenship during the Vietnam War. The fact that Clinton denounced his citizenship to avoid being drafted into the war was used against him his presidential campaign.
In conclusion, Senators Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama and John McCain’s passport files were accessed inappropriately during their presidential campaigns earlier this year. The breach was not properly reported immediately after the incidents occurred. However discipline action was taken immediately, two employees were fired and one was reprimanded and no longer has access to passport files. Although Obama demanded a full investigation to date the only information available is that an initial investigation determined that the incident was a case of curiosity only and no political harm was intended.
McCain asked for a public apology. Accessing information such as passports can lead to crimes as these files contain social security numbers, birthdates and drivers licenses numbers which can be used to access bank accounts, credit reports and open credit cards. In the case of Obama, Clinton and McCain the incident could have been even more detrimental because it was invasion of privacy and could have been used against candidates in the presidential race.