City audit: Thousands of people’s personal data at risk of being leaked

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The city of Albuquerque is in charge of a lot of your private information, but are they keeping it safe? A recent audit shows the personal data of thousands of people may be vulnerable to hackers.

The audit showed there is a risk of a breach of more than 27,000 records that include people’s names, addresses, and sometimes social security numbers and credit card information.

“What we don’t have is a good catalog of which of these data sets do have that information,” said Brian Osterloh.

It’s an audit that took Osterloh by surprise. He’s the Director of the Department of Technology for the city of Albuquerque.

“I was surprised that not many employees had an understanding of PII,” he said.

The city has millions of PII, or Personal Identifiable Information, of people throughout Albuquerque. What this new audit shows, is that many city employees don’t even know what PII is, or how to protect it. 

It also shows 27,037 records are at risk of being leaked.

“It’s a serious matter to us. It’s a serious matter to our community,” said Osterloh.

The audit mainly focused on the time frame between October 2018 and January 2019. It mentions if those records were leaked, it would cost the city $4 million.

Osterloh said he immediately put his employees to work.

“DTI needs to take a more active role in assisting the departments with ensuring they have the capability and impetuous to carry out those safeguards and to train the employees,” he said.

So far, Osterloh said a lot of those safeguards have already been put in place.

“We have encryption. We have firewalls. We have intrusion detection. We have a lot of things happening that help to keep the data secure,” he said.

The city has since cut off any potential access to the 27,037 records and Osterloh said his team is working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

“What we did last week isn’t good enough next week. We continue to move forward,” he said.

The Department of Technology doesn’t have an estimate as to how much it will cost to keep all the personal information safe.

They have been using their resources inside the city to keep the risk minimal. So far, the city has not had a data breach. However, this audit highlighting the inconsistencies within the department is a first for Osterloh.

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