Storage company to blame for Time Warner data loss

News Analysis

Storage company to blame for Time Warner data loss

Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer

A Boston-based storage data company, Iron Mountain Inc., confirmed today that it lost personal data related to 600,000 former and current Time Warner Inc. employees, and that the Secret Service is investigating.

The loophole is human error.


Melissa Burman
spokespersonIron Mountain Inc.

The Iron Mountain loss is one of four reported by the company in 2005. In an interview with SearchCIO.com earlier this month, Iron Mountain attributed the four losses to "human error" -- a rare occurrence, the company said.

In that interview, the company issued a warning to customers to "reassess their backup strategies."

A press release issued by Iron Mountain earlier this month read, in part: "It is important to understand that unencrypted information stored on backup tapes is difficult to read, but it is not impossible. Companies need to reassess their backup strategies and seriously reconsider encrypting sensitive data to prevent a potential breach of privacy."

This morning Iron Mountain spokeswoman Melissa Burman said the company is also reviewing its own security measures.

"Obviously, we're re-engergizing a lot of employee training," Burman said." The loophole is human error," said Burman, adding that the company has "zero tolerance" for such mistakes. The employee who picked up the Time Warner data is no longer working for Iron Mountain, she said.

The Time Warner loss happened during "a routing pickup of our customer's data in New York," Burman said.

"The driver continued on his route for the rest of the data. When he arrived at our storage facility in New Jersey and we scanned the contents of the load, the container was found to be missing," Burman said.

Time Warner released a statement yesterday saying that a storage company they have used for years "as part of its regular processes to protect its computerized data" had reported a loss to them.

"While we have no evidence to suggest the information on the tapes has been accessed or misused, we are providing current and former employees with resources to monitor their credit reports while our investigation continues," said Larry Cockell, Time Warner's senior vice president and chief security officer, in a statement released by the company.

Time Warner's disclosure followed this month's news from Ameritrade that a tape containing information related to 175,000 customers was missing from a package damaged during shipping. In February, Bank of America announced it had lost a tape with personal information on up to 1.2 million federal employees.

Burman declined to name the remaining three customers whose data Iron Mountain has reported missing this year.

"A lost tape does not necessarily equal requirement for disclosure," Burman said.


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