Have you ever experienced anxiety from a hangover when you woke up from a night out? Well, a contractor in Japan recently had excellent cause after collapsing on the street while intoxicated and losing a USB stick carrying private data on 460,517 individuals, which is the entire population of the city of Amagasaki. The worker, a man in his 40s, apparently worked for a business that was subcontracted by the IT firm Biprogy Inc, which was itself given a contract by the Amagasaki municipal government to manage COVID-19 relief payments.
The gadget included data on all 460,517 residents, including zip code, birthdate, and the date they became residents, according to a statement from Biprogy. Additionally, it contained data on 360,573 tax cases, 74,767 families that were “subject to temporary special advantages, such as tax-exempt households,” 69,261 households that received child allowances, and 16,765 households that received livelihood protection benefits.
Biprogy gave a comprehensive sequence of events, which shows that on June 21, the employee put the data on the USB stick in order to move it to another information center. However, the employee was not given instructions to do this, and instead put the USB drive in his backpack. It is important to note that the drive was intended to be cleaned after use and then kept in a certain area. Following that, four corporate workers went out to dine and drink about 7:30 p.m. The individual was identified as being in possession of the bag carrying the USB stick as the group dispersed around 10:30 pm.
However, it seems that’s when everything started to go wrong. The man was discovered sleeping in the street at 3 am on June 22; however, his bag was not to be seen. Unsurprisingly, the man contacted his company to request a sick day for at 9 am. At 2:00 pm, he notified his boss that the bag was gone. On June 22, it was revealed that a mobile phone that was also in the bag had a location. According to The Asahi Shimbun, the employee retraced his hazily remembered movements with 30 police officers on June 24, and the bag was ultimately discovered in an apartment in Suita, Osaka Prefecture.
Fortunately, it appears that the data was encrypted and password-locked, and thus far there have been no reports of data breaches. However, according to Biprogy, they will be keeping an eye on the dark web in case the data appears there. The city has also set up a hotline for anyone worried about their data. According to a statement from the city obtained by the Guardian, “We will seek to recover our people’ trust by boosting awareness of the need of securing personal information.”