Feeds

Passport snooping public servant faces year in the can

'Idle curiosity' spurs celeb data breach

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

A bored former State Department analyst faces up to a year behind bars as a result of his penchant for reading the passport files of celebrities.

Lawrence Yontz, 48, of Arlington, Virginia, looked as the passport applications of Barack Obama and John McCain as well as various unnamed celebs, athletes, businessmen, and even game show contestants between February 2005 and March 2008.

Yontz admitted accessing around 200 passport records on Monday in violation of State Department rules on authorised access to computer records as part of a plea-bargaining deal.

He used the State Department's Passport Information Electronic Records System, which hold data on 127 million US passport holders, as an encyclopedia for no other reason than "idle curiosity," according to a DoJ statement on the case, Wired reports.

Around 20,000 workers have access to the system which was slammed as being run without "policies, procedures, guidance, and training" by a government audit back in July.

The audit was prompted by public reports of the unauthorised access to the passport records system by three workers, which created a huge stink.

The other workers involved in the affair avoided criminal prosecution but faced internal disciplinary hearings that concluded they were motivated by nothing worse than curiosity, Computerworld reports.

Yontz is the only person charged in the case. By drawing attention to the security shortcomings of the system, he may have inadvertently done everyone a favour in helping to spur action to prevent identity theft-motivated data harvesting, or other such serious malfeasance, in future. Computerworld adds that systems in place at the time of the breaches warned that sensitive data was been accessed for no good reasons but managers failed to act on these warnings.

Yontz faces a sentencing hearing penciled in for 19 December. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.