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FEMA Exposes Personal Information of 2.3M Disaster Survivors

The Federal Emergency Management Agency accidentally exposed the personal information of more than 2.3 million people who survived natural disasters including hurricanes Harvey and Maria, and the 2017 California wildfires. The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general’s office said in a report that FEMA inappropriately gave the information to a contractor. There isn’t any evidence the information has been misused, but the type of data released could put individuals at risk for identity theft or fraud, the report said.

The incident, though small compared to some of the other recent data exposures or mega breaches (Equifax’s data breach, for instance, affected more than 145 million consumers), highlights once again the vulnerability to abuse of personal data people share online. As a breach of trust, this could cut particularly deep, since the victims were sharing their personal information so they could receive shelter from the government after suffering personal disaster of another kind.

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