The United States Senate and the Department of Homeland Security are continuing to investigate a burglary at the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) located in Olympia, Washington.
Earlier this year, the organization reported that computer equipment belonging to the OCSE and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department was stolen from the building in two burglaries on February 7 and March 8, 2016.
In April, the U.S. Senate conducted an investigation into the thefts. The Senate was concerned that the personal information of thousands of children and adults could be at risk.
The OCSE oversees child support programs across the country, not just in Washington. The agencies have said that the hard drives and laptops which were stolen contain the names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, and addresses of between 2 million and 5 million people.
There is currently a suspect in custody. Nicholas W. Perring, 28, was charged with four counts of burglary and one count of trafficking in stolen goods. However, Perring stated in court that he knew nothing about any missing hard drives or computer equipment.
Investigators believe that Perring gained access to the building with the help of a girlfriend, who was a former employee. The girlfriend kept a copy of the building keep, and both individuals were caught pawning items matching the description of things stolen in the break ins.
Officials do not know if the data on the drives was encrypted to prevent access by hackers. Complicating the situation is that employees in Olympia used personal laptops to conduct child support audits rather than the government’s secure computers. Some of these personal laptops were also stolen in the burglaries.
So far, there is no indication that the data breach has led to identity theft or other crimes. As the Senate investigates, there may be more information on the implications of the breach.
If you need help with a family law issue, like divorce, child support payments, parenting time, or adoption, contact the experienced Washington state attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law. To schedule your appointment, call 509-572-3700 and speak with our office today.