Feeds

State Department workers snooped on all three prez candidates

'Imprudent curiosity' runs amok

Top three mobile application threats

In an incident underscoring the insecurity of many government records, the State Department revealed that at least four workers snooped into supposedly private passport files of all three presidential contenders.

The breaches involved electronic files that contained personal information about Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. State Department officials refused to say exactly what was in the files, but it could have included a wealth of personal details that could aid political opponents such as the candidates' date and place of birth, address, and the countries the person had traveled to.

A State Department spokesman said "imprudent curiosity" was the likely motivation for the incidents, a claim some critics characterized as doubtful. They said the spying was reminiscent of a 1992 breach by a Republican political appointee at the department into Bill Clinton's passport records when he was a presidential candidate running against President George H.W. Bush.

Two of the workers were employed by Virginia-based Stanley Inc., which earlier this week won a five-year, $570m contract to provide passport services for the State Department. The firm has provided government services since 1992, when it helped establish the National Passport Center, according to Federal Computer Week. The employees were fired Friday, a day after the incident came to light.

Obama's passport file was improperly accessed on three separate occasions, in January, February and March, by the two Stanley employees and a third contract employee whose employer remains unknown. This third person, who has been disciplined but remains on the job, also accessed the records of McCain earlier this year. The individual no longer has access to passport records.

The snooping episodes were detected by an internal process inside the State Department's computer system that flags each time a high-profile person's records are viewed without a valid reason. Despite the system, senior department officials only learned of the breaches on Thursday after receiving an inquiry from a reporter at The Washington Times.

Hilary Clinton's file was accessed last summer during a training session for State Department employees. The person was immediately admonished for the violation.

The State Department's inspector general is investigating. The House Foreign Affairs Committee also plans to look into the breach. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.