August 23, 2005

Breach Exposes U.S. Air Force Officers to ID Theft

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- More than 33,000 U.S. Air Force officers could be at greater risk of identity theft after a "malicious user" accessed a database containing personal information, an Air Force official said on Tuesday.

The attacker used a legitimate password to access a database that contained birth dates, Social Security numbers and career information for about half of the Air Force's officers, as well as a handful of noncommissioned officers, Master Sgt. Randy Mitchell said.

Personal financial records and classified military information are not included in the career-management database, Mitchell said.

The incident has not led to any known instances of identity theft but the Air Force is urging those affected to monitor their credit records, he said.

"We're not sure what the person was doing inside the system, if they was just being curious and going through all these records or what, but nobody's information has been used in an illegal way that we know of so far," Mitchell said in an interview.

A rash of security breaches at businesses, universities and other institutions have put at least 50 million U.S. consumers at heightened risk for identity theft over the past year.

Congress is considering several bills that would tighten computer-security standards and improve consumer protections when such incidents take place.