City Blames Loss of Resident Data on Drunk Guy With USB Drive

Officials in Amagasaki, Japan, say man lost device with info on all of city's 460K residents
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2022 7:49 AM CDT
USB Device With Info on All of City's Residents Vanishes
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Jeffrey Hamilton)

(Newser) – If you're a resident of the Japanese city of Amagasaki and find out over the next few months you're the victim of identity theft, you can allegedly blame a worker who had a little too much to drink. CNN reports that the city's government has put out a rather embarrassing statement, in which it reveals that a man who had a USB flash drive on him with the details of every one of Amagasaki's residents ended up losing that drive after tying one on too tight. Per the statement, the 40-something man—who works for a firm that doles out benefit payments to tax-exempt households—had gone Tuesday to a city administrative hub and accessed the names, addresses, and birthdates for the city's 465,000-plus people, which city officials say he was allowed to do.

He then transferred all of that data—which also included bank account names and numbers, as well as info on public assistance payments and tax details—onto his flash drive and left the building, which he apparently wasn't allowed to do. Public broadcaster NHK notes he then capped off a hard day's work with a meal and some drinks at a local restaurant, where "some drinks" turned into "too many drinks," leading him to fall asleep in the street outside the establishment. When the man woke up, his bag with the flash drive inside it had vanished. He filed a lost-property report with police the next day, and when they found out about the missing flash drive, they sent out an alert to the city, the statement notes.

Authorities are now trying to assure the city's population that the flash drive is encrypted and that, so far, there've been no reports of any data leaks. "We will thoroughly ensure security management when handling electronic data," the city's statement notes, per the Japan Times. "We will work to regain our residents' trust by heightening awareness of the importance of protecting personal information." City officials say residents will still receive their benefit payments without any holdups, and that an investigation is ongoing. The Asahi Shimbun notes a hotline has been set up for people worried that their sensitive info may have been breached. (Read more strange stuff stories.)

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