Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said during a Brookings Institute event the United States ought to take care to avoid a data breach at the Department of Education – that’s where nearly half of Americans’ records are stored.
He made the remarks while discussing the federal agency’s recently revealed security deficiencies, as showcased in an Inspector General report in November.
“Almost half of America’s records are sitting at the Department of Education,” Chaffetz said, the Hill reported. “I think ultimately that’s going to be the largest data breach that we’ve ever seen in the history of our nation.”
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The IG rated the Department of Education an “F” on four different security tests for federal agencies, as implemented under the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, the Hill said. And IG watchdogs followed that written report with testimony before Congress criticizing the agency for failing to abide several warnings of vulnerability.
Chaffetz said part of the problem was the Department of Education’s data collection process relied on 184 different systems, mostly managed by contractors, the Hill reported. And of crucial importance: The agency holds 139 million Social Security numbers and oversees more than 40 million federal student loan borrowers.
Chaffetz referred to the recent hack of Office of the Personnel Management data, as previously reported by WND, and said a data attack on the Department of Education would far and away be larger than even that.
“We’ve been talking a lot about the breach at the Office of the Personnel Management, where we lost data on 22 million people,” Chaffetz said, the Hill reported. “Here, we’re talking about more than $1 trillion in student loans and data on more than 100 million Americans, and it’s not secure by any definition.”