Accident-prone Iron Mountain has mislaid more backup tapes containing personal information.

On April 6th, a driver reported that backup tapes belonging to the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and another customer had gone missing.

The LIRR tapes contained personal information about 17,000 past and current employees - virtually everyone who has every worked for the concern. The second customer's tapes did not contain personal information.

So far no evidence of theft has been found; the tapes have apparently just been mislaid.

The LIRR is providing a paid-for one year account with a credit check and identity theft monitoring service - a costly exercise for 17,000 people.

Iron Mountain has previously lost backup tapes belonging to Times Warner in March, 2005. These covered 600,000 current and past employees.

Also thousands of customers of the City National Bank in Los Angeles had their details on tapes Iron Mountain lost in April, 2005. It appears Iron Mountain has put the identity details of up to three quarters of a million people at risk in just one year.

An Iron Mountain statement declared: "it is not possible to eradicate all human error in a service business, no matter how hard we try." The statement also said: "Identity theft is a very serious matter, but there has never been a case of lost or stolen backup tapes resulting in identity theft."

Not yet. But identity theft thieves are obviously being made aware of the rich pickings presented by transported backup tapes. It is becoming obvious that transporting unencrypted backup tapes is an identity theft disaster waiting to happen.

Agaist this background the moves by the LTO Consortium and IBM to add encryption facilities toLTO4 drives and proprietary IBM tape drives make obvious sense. Iron Mountain may wish that encryption could be retrofitted to current tape formats. Meanwhile on-line backup file vaulting appears to be a more secure method of transfer than tape carriage.