Stolen Laptops Continue to Expose Sensitive Data and Compromise Identities

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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. 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 considering that not all laptop thefts are reported, that may well be a conservative number.

A few of the recent data breaches involving stolen laptops include;

Over 8000,000 Physicians alerted about possible ID theft

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) is reporting a data breach after thieves stole an employee's computer that contained an unencrypted file with the personal information of nearly every doctor who accepts Blue Cross-Blue Shield.

The data on the computer file -- which was stolen out of a parked car in Chicago -- included names, addresses, tax ID and physician identifier numbers of between 800,000 and 850,000 doctors.  In many cases, their tax ID number was also their Social Security number.

Unencrypted laptop with 1 million SSNs stolen from state of Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) is notifying more than one million state residents that their personal data was stored on an unencrypted laptop that was stolen from an agency employee.

The computer file contained the names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and home addresses of Oklahoma's Human Services' clients receiving benefits from programs such as Medicaid, child care assistance, nutrition aid and disability benefits. MORE 

T. Rowe Price contractor loses hard drives with data

Global investment management firm T. Rowe Price has admitted to thieves stealing two laptops containing the sensitive information of thousands of 401(k) participants from the St. Louis office of a third-party contractor. The two laptops contained sensitive information for thousands of people enrolled in 401(k) retirement plans managed by the global investment firm. The hard drives on the two pilfered machines contained the names and Social Security numbers of 35,000 individuals, the company said. MORE
Deloitte partner, principal confidential information on stolen laptop

A laptop containing the personal information of a number of Deloitte & Touche partners, principals and other employees was stolen while in possession of a contractor responsible for scanning the accounting firm's pension fund. The computer contained confidential data, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and other personnel information, such as hire and termination dates. documents. MORE

Georgetown University Data Breach caused by hard drive theft

38,000 Georgetown University students, alumni and staff have been exposed to potential identity theft after an unencrypted hard drive (used for back-ups) was stolen from the Student Affairs office during the winter holiday break. MORE

Laptops remain an easy target for thieves. 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!  Encryption of sensitive data and laptop GPS tracking software that allows laptop owners to extract data remotely once they discover the theft, could go a long way in reducing the damage to those people who have their information compromised thorugh a stolen laptop.

October's Recent Data Breaches

According to a research project aimed at documenting known and reported data loss incidents world-wide, reports the below number of identities placed at risk for identity theft, during October. UPDATED October 23rd

October  22nd   Zurich Insurance                                                51,000  
October  21st   Roane State Community College                         15,977 
October  21st   Bullitt County Public Schools                                  676 
October  20th   ChoicePoint                                                       13,750
October 16th    Halifax Health                                                    33,000 

October 14th    Virginia Department of Education                        103,000   
October 14th    California State University Los Angeles                        85 
October 13th    County Memorial Hospital                                      1,700                      
October 9th      M&T Bank                                                                 52 
October 5th      National Archives and Records Admin             76,000,000
October 4th      Suffolk County Community College                            300      
October 3rd      Blue Cross Blue Shield Association                      187,000

These continued data breaches server to prove that we are no longer in control of our own personal data -and whether or not it is secure. It's important to do what you can to minimize your risk and blow -if you learn your information has been compromised.

Take control of your identity -before someone else does!

Whether it be reviewing your credit reports, banks statement, freezing your credit, securing passwords, or hiring professionals to proactively protect your identity -and be there to assist you in recovering it if stolen, doing so before a theft occurs is key to reducing the impact -and risk of identity theft.


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