Dozen Misuses of PII in the Military

Personnel Find SSN, Birth Dates Exposed in Variety of Daily Activities
Dozen Misuses of PII in the Military
Here are a dozen misuses of personally identifiable information within the American military, according to the paper. entitled The Military's Cultural Disregard for Personal Information, published by four senior military officers:
  • Social Security numbers and dates of birth are exposed to foreign customs officials when traveling on official orders.
  • Social Security numbers are exposed, all or in part, to contracted transportation companies and truck drivers during military moves.
  • Virtually every Department of Defense form requires the Social Security number. Privacy Act statements on these forms typically dictate that disclosure is required.
  • Many organizations create unofficial local forms and databases mandating disclosure of the Social Security number, with or without a Privacy Act statement.
  • Dependent identification cards put the military sponsor's full Social Security number in the hands children as young as 10 years old.
  • Many official and military administrative processes require service members to send unencrypted paperwork, such as leave requests and travel vouchers, containing Social Security numbers across the Internet. These forms are then stored, unencrypted, on myriad computers.
  • Some military organizations use portions of Social Security numbers in email addresses and as computer user names.
  • The Social Security number is stamped in steel on an individual's dog tags. Secure destruction of these tags is nearly impossible.
  • Personnel in Iraq and other forward-deployed locations are required to put their Social Security number on checks to be cashed, write the last four digits of their Social Security number on laundry bags and when filling in gymnasium, Internet Café, and recreational facility sign-in sheets (pictured). Customer friendly local nationals working in laundry facilities have proudly memorized these numbers to provide faster, personalized service.
  • Until recently, a Service Academy Alumni Association published books listing all graduate's dates of birth. Copies are available on eBay.
  • Service members, and their family members, frequently provide their Social Security number-laden military identification card to merchants, clerks, and night club bouncers for military discounts or as proof of age.
  • Service members in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other foreign countries must show their military identification card to locally contracted, foreign national security guards to gain entrance to dining halls and other facilities, again disclosing their SSN and date of birth.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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