Government employees have been caught stealing students’ personal information to apply for loans, credit cards and set up new cell phone accounts,Daily Mail Online has learned.
Reports on breaches of staff conduct inside the Department of Education shows how workers stole social security numbers from a database while a man was fired for trying to look up President Barack Obama’s student loan records.
Cyber security campaigners warned that the failure to protect sensitive information because of ‘bureaucratic incompetence’ is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
Insiders involved in illicit breaches are often overlooked, simply because the public think hackers and cybercriminals are more often to blame, they said.
Lee Tien, senior staff attorney and Adams Chair for Internet Rights at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Mail Online ‘insiders are frequently part of the breach story’.
He added that entities – especially the government – need to uphold their duty to safeguard other people’s personal information.
Berin Szoka, the president of Tech Freedom, insisted some of the privacy issues come from within the government.
‘As usual, the real privacy problem is government. Big Brother surveillance at the NSA is bad enough,’ he told the Daily Mail Online.
‘But bureaucratic incompetence can be far bigger problem. Failing to protect sensitive student loan data is just the tip of the iceberg of poor data security inside government.’
According to the documents – obtained by the Daily Mail Online through a Freedom of Information Act request – a number of government employees set up an illicit scheme to steal students’ information.
One woman created a bogus Department of Education account to access the National Student Loan Data System to aid her criminal plot.
While accessing the records, she would extract information from individual accounts.
She swapped around the last four digits of her SSN with those of another during the scheme, and set up the fake identity to apply for credit cards, personal loans and set up a Sprint cell phone account.
An internal investigation within the department found she went into the database 24 times between 2006 and 2009 to retrieve the information.
Just 24 hours after searching through the database on one occasion in 2009, the documents revealed she applied for a personal loan.
The unidentified employee was arrested and charged in 2011 for stealing more than $500 using the stolen details.
One of the documents related to her case reads: ‘It appears [the employee] did not have a business reason to run either name in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).’
After pleading guilty, she was sentenced to 18 months in jail with a 17-month suspended sentence. However, according to the documents, the employee only served a month in prison and was then given authorized work by a judge.
It’s not known what happened to the other staff members involved in the scheme.
In 2011, a man violated department protocols by trying to access ‘Barrack [sic] Obama’s student loans records. According to the documents he consistently spelled the president’s name wrong – using two ‘r’s.
The employee involved was not prosecuted, but lost his job after departmental staff also discovered he had misused his government-issued travel card.
It is not clear why he tried to access the records as Obama has made the majority of his financial history public knowledge.
He paid off his student loans in in 2004 while he was in the Illinois State Senate. He took out $42,753 in loans to pay for his Harvard Law School tuition while Michelle applied for $40,762 in loans for her Harvard Law education.
The couple carried their debt for 25 years, but the president is believed to have paid it off using $1.9million worth of royalties from his book, Dreams of My Father. It was reissued and became a best seller after his speech at the Democratic convention in 2004.
A third Department of Education employee was investigated in 2014 for using his government email to promote his own business at the taxpayers’ expense. Some of the documents involved have been heavily redacted.
The analysis revealed there were approximately 166 calls totaling 616 minutes or approximately 10 hours of calls during on-duty hours. His calls cost the government approximately $478.36 based on his hourly salary.
He admitted that he shouldn’t have used government equipment – including a scanner, printer, phone and email – for his own personal gain, but it’s not clear what type of business he was operating or whether he was punished.
Another part of the document trove described the investigation into Joseph Butler, a veteran department employee from Clarkstown, Georgia, who accessed child pornography for years.
According to reports he was able to filter his computer activity and get around filtering software preventing government staff from visiting illicit websites.
More than 70 disturbing images were founded embedded in several Microsoft Word documents that were then saved to his government computer.
His Internet browsing history also revealed he had searched for child nudity and pornography.
Butler used his computer to download images onto CD-ROMs, which federal agents found during a search of his home in July 2011. Agents also found graphic stories Butler had written about children.
He is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence. When he is released he will have to sign up to the sex offenders register and completed five years of supervision.
The Department of Education did not comment on the revelations.
However a report in 2015 addressing ‘management challenges’ highlighted ‘repeated problems in IT security and noted increasing threats and vulnerabilities to the Department’s systems and data.’
The document said more steps needed to be taken to make sure federal employees did not breach the database.
One of the factors considered was a two-step authorization process – but it is yet to be implemented.
In September 2013 the Office of the Inspector General – who oversee the Department’s management – warned officials there were weaknesses led to ‘unauthorized accesses to private information.’
H/T Noisy Room
ISIS Jihadists Try To Capture Young Christian Girl, She Takes Out A Machine Gun And Slaughters Five Of Them. There Is Now A Major Christian Militia With American, Australian, And British Christians All Working Together To Destroy ISIS – Walid Shoebat
Speaking in his ancient language, the Aramaic, the language of Jesus, this unnamed Assyrian fighter gives his testimony about what happened in that fateful day when ISIS entered the Assyrian Christian villages at the banks of the Khabur river near Hasaka. He speaks of valiancy and how they fought against all odds.
We thought that the story would help for the Christian west to connect with the Christians of the east. So Shoebat.com translated this never seen before testimony for our western friends to show a story of valor, heroism and the eastern Christian style ‘band of brothers’, and sisters, of course. He recounts the story of one Christian sister, Widad, an Assyrian Christian female fighter and how she single-handedly killed 5 ISIS terrorists before she herself was martyred. His story touched us and it will also touch you. (note: there was an error in the translation “Widad killed have of them” should read “Widad killed five of them”)
“Don’t spread lies” he tells his relatives in America, his village is not gone, even if it is, for he is returning “victoriously”.
To an eastern Christian fighter, the village is everything and death is much more preferred than molestation. The unnamed Christian fighter prefers his grand daughters who were captured by ISIS to be killed rather than to be sexually assaulted. This is the bottom line. It is not “at least I am alive” mentality that is common in the West. Western conservatives by eastern standards are very liberal. Dennis Prager here says that him remaining alive is more important than his wife getting raped:
Martyrdom is the highest honor in the Christian East. Just watch the 21 Copts with their last words “Ya Rabbi Yasou’” (My Lord Jesus Christ).
Land and virginity in the Middle East is everything. Your village is where your ancestors were born. This community is one of the oldest communities in Christendom.
Despite the over three hundred Christian hostages taken by ISIS, it is not all bad news, since Kurdish and Christian fighters have launched a counter attack on ISIS and regained Tal-Hamis.
The counter offensive was done to avenge the death of a fallen Australian soldier, Ashley Johnston (Heval Bagok Serhed) who was martyred in Iraq while fighting ISIS which Shoebat.com were the first to report his martyrdom in English. The Kurds, for his sake, posted images of rows of dead ISIS terrorists.
The unnamed defender speaks highly of the Kurdish fighters who are Muslim, nevertheless, they fight side by side with Christians. And at times, East meets West when valiant western fighters join in, Crusader style.
Ashley Johnston is from Queensland, 28, was martyred on February 24th, while fighting ISIS in northern Iraq alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) and trying to liberate the ISIS-held town of Tal Hamis in Syria. The liberation is now complete and ISIS has fled the area. ISIS is not invincible and most of the YPG posted photos on Facebook of female soldiers smiling, hugging and posing with the peace symbol in front of rows of dead bodies. They say the attack was to revenge the death of an Australian soldier. It is here where east meets west.
‘They were massively outnumbered and outgunned but fearless in the face of this as they knew another ISIS death meant saving the lives of countless civilians. He was a fearless and exceptional soldier as well a great man,” the Facebook statement read.
Jamie Read from Lanarkshire, Scotland, served in the British Army for four years before traveling to Syria in 2014 to join the battle against ISIS.
Last August, a hairdresser from south London, known as Mama Kurda, 26, from Croydon, was reported to be the first Briton to travel to fight alongside Kurdish forces.
Jordan Matson, a former soldier for the US Army, is another American serving in the fight against ISIS.
Two women, Canadian Jew Gill Rosenberg, 31, and Danish Kurd Joanna Palani, 20, have also reportedly travelled to fight with the Kurds, inspired perhaps by the images of female fighters on the front line against Islamic State terrorists.
So onward Christian soldier.
P.S: Please consider the serious issue on Christian persecution which will increase as we see these events unfold. we operate a very effective mission in rescuing fellow Christians. We are a unique organization (Rescue Christians) who rescue Christians, perdominately in Pakistan that live under the Muslim yoke baking bricks in kilns under the heating sun. Christians in Pakistan are also burned in furnaces. To see an example out of the thousands we rescue, click here, and listen to the amazing testimonies first hand on how you can help and make a difference, now in this life and for eternity.
A couple of weekends ago, when my entire family was down with illness and rain was pouring outside, the Internet was our best friend. What better to do while sick in bed than catch up on all of my Facebook friends’ lives, find new ebooks to download from Amazon.com, catch up on a backlog of movies over Netflix, and tweet until my fingers were tired? And I don’t just mean myself – the whole family was doing all of that, and more. Watching YouTube videos, posting YouTube videos. Between coughs and sneezes.
Here’s what’s remarkable: According to the FCC our Internet connection, which facilitated all of that activity flawlessly, without a glitch, no longer counts as broadband.
There is literally nothing we want to do on the Internet that our connection can’t handle. And we have a teenager, for a clincher. We’re reasonably early adopters of just about every Internet connected device and service. But our Internet connection no longer meets the FCC’s definition of broadband.
Our connection speed was squarely within the definition of broadband until just a couple of weeks ago, when the FCC retracted previous policy standards and redefined broadband.
How does that make sense? Why would the FCC set a standard that so obviously isn’t true? How does a supposedly “expert agency” get something so wrong?
For political reasons. You see, all the FCC has to do is redefine broadband at a higher speed, and now they can argue that America’s broadband networks are insufficient and thus require greater FCC intervention.
And it’s part of a pattern. This is not the first time that the Obama-era FCC has radically departed from previous established FCC policy. Previously the FCC found that the wireless market is highly competitive. But as soon as an Obama-appointed FCC Chairman took office, the FCC decided that the wireless market was in fact not competitive, and previous FCCs all just got it wrong somehow.
The sad fact is that the FCC, purported to be an expert technical agency, has been thoroughly politicized – it’s now simply a political extension of the Obama administration and thus has been indentured into the administration’s regulatory power grab over the Internet.
Detailed reporting by the Wall Street Journal has revealed that the entire time the FCC was working to craft a more reasonable net neutrality compromise, the White House was engaged in a “secret,” parallel, closed process to craft a different policy that “stunned officials at the FCC.” The White House process was closed to some stakeholders and influenced by conversations with President Obama at a fundraiser. Those meeting with the White House were not required to register as lobbyists and were told to “not discuss the process openly.”
The White House effort “essentially killed the compromise proposed by Mr. Wheeler” and “swept aside more than a decade of light touch regulation of the Internet and months of work by Mr. Wheeler toward a compromise.”
So much for an “independent agency.”
In our constitutional republic, the proper place for public policy to be made is by the elected representatives of the people, through legislation. Congress has stepped up and Senator Thune has introduced legislation that would settle the net neutrality debate once and for all. Congress should be given time to act, but the President and Senate Democrats have made it clear that the Thune legislation is not acceptable: What they wanted all along was heavy federal regulation, not net neutrality. The gig is up.
Because the FCC has forsaken its mandate to be both expert and independent, Congress now has every reason to gut the FCC and radically downsize its regulatory scope and authority.
The FCC could be completely eliminated, and its few key functions distributed among other relevant agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Frankly, many of the FCC’s functions already overlap with the FTC, NTIA, and the Justice Department. In light of the FCC’s grotesque abrogation of its mandate to be expert and independent, a creative Congress could easily eliminate or dramatically scale back the FCC’s power.
Such a reform of the FCC is in fact long overdue, and Chairman Wheeler has set in motion the mechanism of its execution. By sacrificing his agency to President Obama’s radical progressive agenda to put the federal government in regulatory control of communications media, Chairman Wheeler should in fact be the last Chairman of the FCC as we know it.