Laptops are a Favorite Target of Thieves...

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Over the last year, many of the reported data breaches have occurred through the theft of laptops. In fact, various manufacturers of GPS tracking software for laptops point to research gathered from the FBI and large laptop insurers that claim that one laptop is stolen every twelve seconds. And some say that number is conservative, since not all laptop thefts are reported.

Laptops are a growing target of thieves and with skyrocketing laptop usage, the number of laptop thefts will continue to rise -and so too will the number of identity thefts. When going wireless, we not only need to ensure we have properly protected our data and wireless access points, but we need to safeguard the laptop itself!

Government and corporate laptops have large amounts of data stored on them -and that data is viewed by thieves as the hottest commodity around -worth more than its weight in gold!

Today's laptop tracking software, offered by a variety of companies, once installed on your laptop, allows you to track the location of the stolen laptop, and better yet, some systems are designed to retrieve files off the laptop and simultaneously delete them from the stolen computer.  Essentially, you are stealing back your own data -right before the thieves prying eyes!

Here are a few of this week's laptop thefts that reached the headlines;

Baylor Health Care says laptop with patient data stolen
Dallas News

A laptop computer containing limited health information on 100,000 patients was stolen from an employee's car in September, Baylor Health Care System Inc. said Monday.

A letter is being sent to the patients, including 7,400 patients whose Social Security numbers were stored on the computer.

Dr. David Winter, chairman of Baylor subsidiary HealthTexas Provider Network, said it could have been worse.

"Fortunately, the laptop did not contain comprehensive patient medical records, and, according to law enforcement officials, it is rare that incidents such as this result in identity theft," Dr. Winter said.

The data consisted of names of patients and medical codes relating to the treatment they received. The codes are a series of numbers requiring a medical code book to interpret, said Nikki Mitchell, a Baylor spokeswoman.

Baylor said it was in the process of upgrading its data security before the laptop theft and it had started installing a new technology that would allow it to track laptops and remotely erase data, if necessary.

Baylor is offering a $1,000 reward for the return of the laptop, which was stolen from a manager's car between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. on Sept. 18 or 19 in Royse City.

It was within the manager's job description to visit Baylor locations collecting patient data on the laptop, but she was fired because leaving the laptop in her car broke protocol, Ms. Mitchell said.

"We take situations like this very seriously," Ms. Mitchell said.

Baylor is offering free credit-monitoring services to patients whose Social Security numbers were on the laptop.

It also set up a toll-free number, 1-800-554-5281, to respond to questions between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Man charged in theft of laptops pleads guilty

Paul Brian Steedman stole 32 laptop computers from his employer, a Marriottsville-based nonprofit health care company owned by nuns, prosecutors say.

The Westminster man then sold the computers on eBay, prosecutors say, listing photos of box labels with serial numbers that matched those of the stolen computers - along with a picture of himself as the seller and a user name that included his birth year.

Steedman, 28, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Howard County Circuit Court to a felony theft scheme and could now face 15 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

The state is recommending a sentence of 18 months in prison, five years of probation and about $53,000 in restitution.

In April, police responded to a theft complaint at Bon Secours Health System Inc., a nonprofit Catholic health system involved in managing hospitals, assisted-living facilities, nursing homes and home care and hospice groups in seven states.

Bon Secours representatives reported that Steedman, a former employee, had used his employee ID to gain access to a secure room on several occasions after business hours and stole about 32 laptop computers, according to charging documents.


GAO contractor indicted in laptop theft scheme

A former GAO contractor has been indicted in a scheme to steal and resell government laptops and other equipment.

Thirty-seven-year-old Darryl Lyles of Capitol Heights pleaded not guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to charges of wire fraud, theft of government property, interstate transportation of stolen property, possession of stolen goods and first-degree theft.

Prosecutors say while Lyles worked at the Government Accountability Office in 2006 and 2007, he stole or caused to be stolen 30 laptops and a projector. They say he then posted advertisements for the items on Craigslist.


Bank of Ireland customer data on missing device

The Data Protection Commissioner is investigating the loss of a USB computer memory device containing personal details of almost 900 Bank of Ireland customers.

The full name, account numbers, first line of address and contact numbers for 894 customers from different parts of the country are held on the memory key.

The information was not encrypted despite this being required by the bank's policies and procedures.

A spokeswoman for the bank said the device had been reported missing last Wednesday and the Data Protection Commissioner notified yesterday. The bank began contacting these customers yesterday.

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