Saturday, November 19, 2005

Incident: PC containing personal information on +160K Boeing employees and retirees stolen

A personal computer containing sensitive personal information on current and former Boeing employees has been stolen. The information included names, addresses, social insurance number and, in some cases, banking information. Boeing says that the information was password protected. The PC was being used by an employee off-site, but the company wouldn't elaborate on the details of the theft. See: The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: PC stolen from Boeing packed with employees' personal data.

Saying it is "password protected" isn't a lot of assurance, given that Windows login passwords are not very secure. (See The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Don't worry, your data is password protected. Yeah? How?)

Rob Hyndman comments:

"All interesting, etc. etc., but really just another day in the wacky world of data security. For my part, it's difficult to understand why one would ever need the personal and banking information of 161,000 people on a laptop - so one can read it on the sofa? Or take it to that HR Symposium in Duluth, 'just in case'?"

In this day and age, with the widespread adoption of relatively secure remote access by VPN, it is difficult to see why this sort of sensitive information really needs to be on an easily stolen laptop.

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