Especially if you’re a government employee or contractor, and have sensitive things on your computer. Like lists of patients being treated for mental illness or HIV, photos of alleged Mafia hit men, or the plans for the President’s new helicopter. All of the above have been accidentally leaked over file-sharing networks from work computers by government employees or their families.
This is a big enough problem that a Congressional panel on the topic met yesterday, and Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) plans to introduce a bill banning all filesharing software from government employees’ and contractors’ work computers.
Robert Boback, chief executive of Tiversa, a company that scours music- and file-sharing networks on the Internet for sensitive data, said the use of such software is being exploited by foreign governments for espionage and other purposes. “Other countries know how to access this information and they are accessing this information,” he said.
Boback told the committee that Tiversa found FBI surveillance photos of an alleged hit man on the Internet while he was still on trial. The company also found the government’s confidential witness list for that trial, which included the names of some people in the government’s witness protection program. He said the company found the documents while scouring the networks for other data for a client.
Boback, who was asked by the committee not to publicly identify the hit man, said the defendant was recently convicted and sent to prison for life.
“This is not information you want to have out there,” he said.
The Department of Homeland Security also recommends that nobody use filesharing software, and in an interview with Consumerist, Gartner Research privacy analyst Avivah Litan warned us civilians to be careful with such networks, too. So there’s that.
File Sharing Leaks Sensitive Federal Data, Lawmakers Are Told [Washington Post]
(Photo: CJ Sorg)