Government Data Leaks – How to Prevent Your Organization from Becoming a Data Breach Target

Written by Jackson Letson

Jackson brings over 20 years of experience in the technology sector and has held leadership roles in Technical Support, IT Service Management, Network Performance Management, Virtualization, IT Operations Management, and now Managing Partner at NOFTEK.

November 9, 2020

Is your government organization at risk of a data hack? More and more, that answer would be yes. Today, it’s all too common for hackers and other nefarious characters to target government agencies specifically, leaking data that can be sold or ransomed, sometimes for political gain. How can you prevent your Caribbean-based government organization from experiencing the same fate?

To fight back against government data leaks, you need a data security system that understands and accommodates the data challenges of government organizations in the British Virgin Islands. 

In this article, we’ll share examples of some of the biggest and most significant data breaches worldwide to serve as cautionary tales. You’ll definitely want to prioritize your data safety going forward, and we’ll tell you how. 

Examples of Government Data Breaches in the US and Worldwide

Across the globe, and especially in the United States, seemingly impenetrable government organizations have been felled by data thieves. These include countrywide voter databases, the National Archives and Records Administration or NARA, and even the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Here are the tales of all three data breaches.

US Voter Database – 2015

In the US, voters regularly go to polling booths to cast their votes in local and countrywide elections. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how Americans vote, not everyone may want to go back to the old ways considering the nationwide voter database breach in 2015.

According to a Reuters writeup on the breach, about 191 million US voters had personal information leaked. All 50 states in the US were included in the breach, which revealed such private data as email addresses, phone numbers, party affiliations, birthdates, addresses, and full names. 

What’s worse is the breach happened only because the database wasn’t configured properly.

National Archives and Records Administration – 2009

NARA, an organization made solely for recordkeeping, experienced a hard drive failure in 2009 that breached the data of 76 million US veterans. From the veterans’ names to phone numbers and addresses, this information was accidentally sent to NARA’s IT contractor.

Like the US voter database breach in 2015, this was an internal mistake on the part of NARA, not the doings of a hacker. The government organization didn’t empty the hard drive before sending it to their IT pros, a very costly mistake to make. 

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (2006)

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs in 2006 stored information about its veterans on a laptop. When that laptop disappeared, so too did veteran privacy, as their Social Security numbers, birthdates, and names all leaked, affecting 26.5 million US veterans in all.

The risk of identity theft is quite high in a case like this, which explains why the Department of Veteran Affairs later ended up in court as part of a class-action lawsuit

Would you rather have some more current examples of significant data breaches? Here are several incidents that happened much more recently.

JailCore – January 2020

JailCore is a US-based service that manages jail records electronically. Earlier this year, vpnMentor broke open the story that JailCore failed to encrypt or secure its data, exposing the information of 20,000 inmates in the process. In this case, the data encompassed incarceration records as well as birthdates and first and last names. 

Data breaches of inmates can also pose a significant identity theft risk. Since those in jail cannot hop on the Internet regularly like most people can, it’s very easy for a data thief to steal an inmate’s identity and use it for a long time before anyone notices. 

Government of Quebec, Canada – February 2020 

Over in Canada, the Government of Quebec had a data leak early in 2020 that affected roughly 360,000 Canadian teachers. Data thieves were able to log into the database using a password and login they had stolen. The information gleaned included birthdates, Social Insurance Numbers, first and last names, and more.  

Current Data Security Measures for Government Organizations in the British Virgin Islands

Your own government organization could be a potential target for a data breach. After all, the reputation of secrecy that surrounds the BVI makes data hackers and thieves much more interested in exposure. 

That’s why the BVI has recently begun to reevaluate its measures of security, especially in areas like financial technology or fintech. This Lexology writeup describes the regulations the BVI unveiled called the Financial Services (Regulatory Sandbox) Regulations, which went into effect in August 2020.

Per the regulations, fintech groups can work within a regulatory sandbox and don’t need licensing when in that sandbox. Applying to the sandbox costs $2,000USD and requires going through the Financial Services Commission or FSC. To qualify as part of the BVI sandbox, a fintech group needs two limited partnership partners or two directors. 

What these new regulations brought to light is that the BVI has differing opinions compared to the United Kingdom on which information should and shouldn’t be made publicly available. 

How Can You Protect Your Government Data? Use Noftek 

As the BVI strives to safeguard its government organizations on a wider scale, you can also protect your organization individually through a data loss prevention system. 

Noftek is a leading data protection software that serves Trinidad and BVI companies and organizations, including those in healthcare, law enforcement, and government, among other industries. 

At Noftek, we understand that some data leaks are internal and unintentional and that others are intentional through data thieves or hackers. Either way, the aftereffects of a breach can be incredibly damaging. 

Our data security includes automatic monitoring that doesn’t disrupt your workflow so you can be in control of your government agency. 

We also offer a free trial

If you absolutely cannot use a data loss prevention software like Noftek at this time, then we strongly recommend creating an emergency preparedness guide for how your government organization would handle a data leak.

We suggest gathering an Incident Response Team within your organization, opening a communication and reporting channel with outside and inside counsel, working with cybersecurity and legal experts, and collecting all evidence in the event of a data breach. After documenting the breach and contacting those other parties, you should reach out to law enforcement.  

At Noftek, we want to see more organizations–government entities especially–be protected from unintentional and intentional data leaks alike. 

Why not call us today or visit our website for a free consultation? We even offer a free 30-day trial of our software so you can get started risk-free! 

Prioritizing your security today can preserve your government organization’s reputation tomorrow! Book a call with us to get started. 

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