The United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has recently been afflicted by a disastrous data breach. More specifically, the private data of close to three million disaster victims are said to have been shared with an undisclosed contractor.
Who is affected by the data breach?
It was recently revealed that FEMA has accidentally exposed the information of nearly three mullion disaster victims’ social security numbers, banking information and home addresses. Those exposed had supposedly used FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program during 2017.
This report was verified by FEMA’s press secretary Lizzie Litzow, who explained in a statement that FEMA has ”provided more information than was necessary” to the contractor in question.
Nevertheless, FEMA is now said to have corrected this error and states that it has taken significant steps in order to counter this mistake. Litzow stated that ”FEMA is no longer sharing unnecessary data with the contractor and has conducted a detailed review of the contractor’s information system.”
It should be noted, however, that the potential implications of this data breach remain serious despite FEMA’s retroactive attempts to rectify it. Furthermore, it opens up the possibility of identity theft, as well as creates a widespread risk for fraud.
A new data filter has reportedly been installed into FEMA’s network, in order to prevent remaining information from leaving the network. In addition to this, the Office of the Inspector General is said to work on giving FEMA additional security and privacy training from the Department of Homeland Security.
Blockchain technology could have prevented this type of breach
Nonetheless, these efforts are all merely trying to alleviate the mistake. FEMA is said to have recruited security experts to perform on-site checks in the future, and is currently working on a permanent fix for the data breach.
However, blockchain technology could arguably have prevented this from ever happening in the first place. In addition to that, FEMA’s permanent fix for the problem might not be ready until sometime during 2020.
As such, a blockchain-based network solution for handling sensitive information such as addresses, bank details and home addresses could make a lot of sense. Furthermore, politicians are also venting their frustration regarding how FEMA has handled the relevant data.
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Bennie Thompson, commented on the issue:
”This is unacceptable, and FEMA must demonstrate it will do better in the future. Safeguarding the information of Americans already suffering from a disaster should be of the utmost importance.”
This shows that there is substantial support for creating a more secure system for managing sensitive data of this sort. With that being said, however, it could sadly take some time for American governmental agencies to adopt blockchain-based solutions on a broad level.
This is unfortunate, seeing as it could provide a safer and more secure system, where this type of data breach is prevented.
Rasmus Pihl is a writer for Toshi Times by day and an avid follower of the blockchain industry by night. Rasmus holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from the Gothenburg School of Business, Economics, and Law and runs a Swedish marketing consulting firm. Moreover, when he isn’t writing for Toshi Times, traveling, working or changing the world in some other capacity, Rasmus is more than likely caught up in postgraduate studies.