[ISN] DMV hopes to reassure clients about security

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Wed Mar 16 2005 - 00:14:50 PST


By David Kihara 
March 15, 2005 

Mark Saia walked into the state Department of Motor Vehicles office at
4110 Donovan Way on Monday looking for information on the possible
theft of his identity. He left with only questions.

"(The burglars) have my Social Security number and my date of birth --
what can they do with it?" Saia asked. "How is the DMV going to stop
something like this from happening again?"

Saia is just one of almost 9,000 individuals who could be victims of
identity theft after burglars on March 7 crashed a vehicle into the
North Las Vegas DMV branch near Craig Road and Interstate 15 and stole
a computer with personal driver's license information as well as
Social Security numbers of dates of birth.

He went to the DMV on Donovan Way on Monday to get information on his
chances of being a victim. He was given a slip of paper with the DMV
Fraud hotline telephone number on it and a piece of very bad news: He
could be the victim of identity theft because between Nov. 25 and
March 5 he was issued a commercial instruction permit to drive a

Anyone who was issued a license during that time period could be the
victim of identity theft.

"I was a little concerned when I heard (reports of the burglary)  
announced on the radio because (the burglars) have my Social Security
number," Saia said, adding that he learned of the theft from media

The DMV on Wednesday will send out letters describing the incident and
new driver's licenses with different numbers to the 8,738 people whose
personal information was stored on the stolen computer, said Kevin
Malone, spokesman for the DMV.

The DMV could not issue the certified letters and new driver's
licenses sooner than Wednesday because of the immense volume of
licenses, he said.

"We're doing this as quickly as we can," Malone said.

He said the DMV could not inform the potential victims by telephone
because the agency does not keep individual's phone numbers.

To clear misconceptions, Malone said the reason the DMV on Friday
reversed previous statements, saying that the information stored on
the stolen computer could yield personal information, was because of
the DMV's computer vendor, Digimarc.

Digimarc told the DMV on Thursday that personal information on the
DMV's computers that was believed to have been wiped off the North Las
Vegas DMV branch's computer system at the end of the day was actually
"backed up" and stored in the computer.

This new information led officials to believe that the burglars have
almost 9,000 identities, he said.

He could not comment on whether or not Digimarc ever provided
assurances to the DMV that the personal information could remain on
the computer systems at the end of the day.

Digimarc could not comment on the case because it has a nondisclosure
agreement with the DMV, said Leslie Constans, spokeswoman for

"We are working with the DMV to understand what happened," Constans

The Oregon-based computer firm contracts with 32 DMVs across the
country to provide digital driver's licenses computer systems, she

Tim Bedwell, spokesman for North Las Vegas Police, said the
authorities still have not arrested any suspects in the burglary.

Much of this, however, still leaves some citizens like Saia with
unanswered questions and anger toward the DMV.

"They need to try and figure out a way to make sure this doesn't
happen again," Saia said.

Another individual concerned that the burglars might have have stolen
his personal information during the burglary was Jeff Lamb, who also
visited the Donovan Way DMV on Monday to get information relating to
the crime.

Lamb saw television news reports during the weekend about the
incident, and he said he just wanted to "check for safety."

The 64-year-old Lamb said he was slightly worried that personal
information was left on the computers at night, but ultimately
believed that little could be done if burglars drive a vehicle through
a plate glass window to gain access, as they did in the DMV burglary.

After consulting with a DMV employee, he walked away feeling a little
more secure: He had been issued a driver's license several years ago
and was not in danger of having his identity stolen.

"I guess I'm OK," he said.

Bellua Cyber Security Asia 2005 -

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