A missing USB stick may compromise the personal details of every resident of Amagasaki City in Japan.
According to a statement from the city government, an unnamed man lost the USB stick after a post-work night out last week.
Public broadcaster NHK detailed in a report that the man, who is in his 40s, fell asleep on the street after drinking alcohol at a restaurant. When he woke up, the USB stick and the bag where he kept it were gone.
The statement from the city government noted that the man is working for a company tasked with providing benefits to tax-exempt households in Amagasaki.
On Tuesday, prior to the night out, the employee went to the city administration’s information center and transferred residents’ data onto the USB stick. On Wednesday, the worker looked for the flash drive but couldn’t find it, so he went to the police to file a lost property report.
Later that day, the man’s employer notified the city government about the loss. And the following day, authorities held a news conference, with the city mayor and other officials bowing in apology to residents.
What exactly is in the USB stick?
The data stored in the USB stick include the names, birth dates, and addresses of over 465,000 people in Amagasaki ― the city’s entire population. The flash drive also contains highly personal data including tax details, bank account names and numbers, and information on households receiving public assistance such as childcare payments. The USB stick is encrypted, and as of Thursday, no data leak has been confirmed yet.
What will happen to the worker who lost the USB stick?
It’s unclear if the man will be receiving any disciplinary action from his employer and/or facing legal action from the city government. But authorities criticized the employee for failing to delete the data from the USB stick after finishing his work at the city office, and for carrying it personally instead of using a more secure transportation method.
Will payments to eligible households get delayed?
Though there’s still the possibility of data compromise since the missing USB stick hasn’t been found yet, authorities said the city will make payments to eligible households without delays and will release more information on the case as the investigation continues.
Following the incident, authorities released a reminder for government and private employees to get permission before taking flash drives out of the city offices.