Connecticut sues Accenture over lost data

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said this week that he is suing Accenture Ltd. over the loss of confidential taxpayer data and hundreds of state bank account and purchasing card numbers.

Blumenthal, on behalf of the state, is suing the Hamilton, Bermuda-based consultant for negligence, unauthorized use of state property and breach of contract. The lawsuit is asking for reimbursement for state resources that will be spent to protect and secure the information and the return of some money already paid to the company.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in June when a backup device containing information for a similar project in Ohio was stolen. The lawsuit alleges that Accenture converted state property to its own use without state permission and acted negligently to allow sensitive data from Connecticut to be placed on a computer tape for an Ohio project.

"Accenture deserves censure ? to be held accountable for allowing valuable secret data to be stolen and putting at risk state taxpayers, bank accounts and purchasing cards," Blumenthal said in a news release.

The state is seeking recovery of some of the money already paid, as well as costs or damages, whether those occur now or in the future, he said.

Blumenthal took the action on behalf of State Comptroller Nancy Wyman, whose agency signed a contract with Accenture for a financial data system. Wyman asserts Accenture violated the terms of the contract by allowing the data to be transferred to Ohio.

Accenture said in a statement that it is reviewing the matter. The company said that it regretted the incident, which it blamed on human error. "We believe that our policies inadvertently were not followed," the statement said.

Accenture has agreed to pay for credit protection for the 58 people whose confidential information was on the tape, according to state and company officials.

The tape included information on several hundred state agency bank accounts and 754 agency purchasing cards, of which only 298 were active. State officials said it is unlikely the person who stole the tape would be able to view the data because it is hard to access on the tape.

Accenture said it would take appropriate action with any employees involved in the incident and continue to work with the state to safeguard the other data on the stolen tape. Accenture agreed that the technical complexity of retrieving the data from the backup storage device makes it unlikely that anyone would be able to use it to commit fraud.

So far there is no evidence that Connecticut's lost data has been accessed or misused by unauthorized people, Accenture said.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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