AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Georgia data breach raises broader concerns

It is a balancing act.

In order to function, state government offices have to share information. But handling that information is what leads to accidental breaches of confidential data.

It was the manual manipulation of data files by an employee in Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office that apparently resulted in the accidental disclosure of more than 6 million Social Security numbers and other bits of private data from voter rolls. Kemp’s office says the data, which went to 12 media and political organizations, has been retrieved or deleted.

“It’s not if something is going to happen, it’s when something happens what is your response going to be,” said Roger Boyd, head of the Technology Risk and Assurance Group in the State Auditor’s office.

Boyd’s group concentrates on making sure the state’s securing of financial data is as good as it can be. Beyond front-end security, agencies must have business practices in place that allow them to respond quickly when a breach occurs.

“We’ve seen marked improvement through the state agencies,” he said.

But some are questioning how seriously the state treats private data. For more on how the state’s security efforts, read our full report on myAJC.com.

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Joyner’s column, AJC Watchdog, investigates topics in your community and Georgia.