March 30, 2012 – Social Security numbers, health care information and other sensitive data may be at risk for more than 800,000 people from storage drives the State of California said have gone missing from its contractors, IBM and Iron Mountain.

Late Thursday, the state announced that it had learned March 12 that IBM and Iron Mountain could not locate “several specialized computer storage devices” containing personal information from the California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS). The devices were in-transit from an IBM facility in Colorado back to California, according to a DCSS department release. While not describing the types of storage devices, DCSS interim director Kathleen Hrepich said the risk of personal data exposure was low and would not impact DCSS’s daily processing activities.

“Because the devices are in a specialized format, we have no reason to believe, at this time, that the data have been accessed or utilized in any way,” said Hrepich in a statement on the lost storage units.

In a statement on its site, Iron Mountain noted that it was receiving the devices through a third-party shipping company as part of the protocol for a disaster recovery test being conducted by the DCSS. The devices are believed to have been lost during movement and Iron Mountain stated it was “working with all parties to help find these missing devices.” On Monday afternoon, a spokesman for IBM stated: "The security and protection of data is of utmost importance to IBM, and we continue to work diligently with all involved parties to find the unaccounted-for storage devices. There is no indication that the data on the storage devices has been improperly accessed or used."

Information on the storage devices includes names, addresses, Social Security and driver’s license numbers, names of health insurance providers, and employment information. Those impacted will be notified by mail, the DCSS reported.

The state has alerted the three major credit reporting agencies, as well as the California Attorney General’s office and the Office of Privacy Protection, and recommended extended personal credit and information monitoring for customers of the DCSS. In addition, there is more information on its website, as well as a toll-free number: (866) 904-7674.