Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sacrificial Lambs?

According to reports in the Washington Post, among other news organizations, Michael H. McLendon, deputy assistant secretary for policy with Veterans Affairs, "resigned" as a result of the May 3 data breach announced May 22, just prior to Memorial Day. Veterans officials have also notified the civil servant from whose home the data was stolen that he will be terminated as a result of the breach.

Swift action, but is it merely window dressing for a practice that, according to this story in Information Week, has been going on for years? If this individual was known to have been transporting sensitive data since 2003, how many others have been doing the same thing?

McLendon and the unnamed VA employee have lost their jobs, but did the axe fall high enough and often enough to send the message that the VA is serious about revising its data security policy? I can only hope that is the case and that Veterans isn't just scapegoating these two individuals for the sake of saving face, while others equally culpable remain entrenched at the public trough.

Only time will tell if the VA and other federal (and state) agencies finally get it, or if sloppy data security will remain de facto policy.


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