The pitfalls of large hard drives – and national security
May 20th, 2009 by Isaiah Beard

Well, here’s an example of how putting all your data eggs in one basket can be quite dangerous.  The National Archives and Records Administration has reported the loss of an external hard drive containing a massive amount of data, the information being personal data at best, and items potentially related to national security matters at worst:

The Inspector General of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) told congressional committee staffers Tuesday that a hard drive containing over a terabyte of information – the equivalent of millions of books-went missing from the NARA facility in College Park, Md., sometime between October 2008 and March 2009.

The Department of Justice and the Secret Service are conducting an investigation, but it’s so far unclear whether the drive was lost as the result of a crime or an accident.

Of course, the technologist in me finds it really interesting that over 8 years ago, the federal government apparently had access to 1 terabyte hard drives!  Those have only become mainstream technology over the past three years or so.  But I digress…

NARA clearly takes the issue seriously, and has posted a FAQ (pdf) about the disappearance.  The document highlights something else of note – how long the drive was “missing” as opposed to “last seen.”


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