It’s hard to believe that a USB stick the size of a thumb can hold as much information as a computer the size of a car could thirty years ago. However, whilst convenient, that little USB is also a lot easier to lose, making it far more likely that private data will go missing or worse yet, end up in the wrong hands.
An elections warehouse in Ontario has learned this the hard way. It has recently been reported that 2.4 million voter records contained on two USB sticks have gone missing. The devices contain the names, birth dates, addresses, and gender of voters from up to 25 different districts around the province, and there is a concern that the loss of this data could lead to widespread identity theft. Neither of the USBs were encrypted or password protected, even though this falls outside the agency’s policy.
Although the data did not include provincial health card or driver’s license information, phone numbers, email addresses, or banking or credit card information, those affected have been asked to keep a close eye on their credit card statements and other transactions for at least a year.