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Non-Encrypted Hall of Shame
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The Non-Encrypted Hall of Shame

In today's world not protecting other people's personal information that has been entrusted to you is a shameful act. It should be considered as bad as stealing. When you don't take prudent steps to guard their personal information you are negligent. Too bad there isn't a law called “negligent theft”, until such time we give you “The Non-Encrypted Hall of Shame”. If your company loses other people's information on a laptop, backup tape, thumb drive, or other portable device, or any media that has left your company's properly secured physical control, and that data is non-encrypted your are likely to end up here. If your device was lost and the data was properly encrypted you will not be listed here. did a nice article this month on data protection within the federal government, how FISMA relates to all this, and the massive finger pointing that is just getting started. Proper encryption is better than Fort Knox at protecting data. (

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No Longer Supported

September 12, 2007 – ComputerWorld
Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) – Two computers were stolen from a DPW office building that contained the personal information on 375,000 people. Social Security numbers of some of the people were also included on the computers. Not all of the information could be associated with the names of people. The computers were not encrypted.

September 7, 2007 – Information Week
McKesson - Health-care services company, McKesson, is alerting thousands of its patients that their personal information is at risk after two of its computers were stolen from an office. The information on the computers included names, addresses, prescribed medications, dosages, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth. The information was not encrypted.

September 7, 2007 – The Mercury News
De Anza College (CA) – A laptop computer was stolen from a math teacher's home that contained the personal information, including many Social Security numbers , of about 4,375 students. The laptop apparently was not encrypted.

September 1, 2007 –
Johns Hopkins Hospital - A desktop computer containing the personal information of 5,783 patients was stolen from Johns Hopkins Hospital. The computer contained patients' names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, medical histories and other personal information. The information apparently was not encrypted.

August 30, 2007 – Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS)
Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) – A laptop computer containing information on approximately 106,000 taxpayers was stolen that contained taxpayer names and Social Security Numbers. The data apparently was not encrypted. To add insult to injury the state had the following to say “The stolen laptop was password-protected. It is highly unlikely that someone could access the data without specialized knowledge.” Yea, like the 12 year kid down the street with 10 minutes available for a Google search. It isn't difficult and the only “specialized knowledge” required is the ability to follow step-by-step instructions on the internet. Encrypt your data, passwords are meaningless.

August 30, 2007 – ComputerWorld
AT&T Corp. - A laptop containing unencrypted personal data on current and former employees of the former AT&T Corp. was stolen recently from the car of an employee of a professional services firm doing work for the company. The information included Social Security numbers, names and other personal details.

No Longer Supported

August 29, 2007 – Maryland Department of Environment
Maryland Department of Environment - an employee’s laptop computer was stolen from a vehicle that contained four databases. Those databases included personal information of licenses issued by the State Board of Well Drillers, State Board of Environmental Sanitarians, Waterworks Board and a database of Septic Inspectors. This data contained identifying information including names, addresses, phone numbers and social security numbers. The information apparently was not encrypted.

August 23, 2007 ComputerWorld
New York City Financial Information Services Agency (FISA) - A laptop containing Social Security Numbers and other personal data on 280,000 New York pensioners was stolen from a laptop consultant hired by FISA. The city says that the data “may” have been encrypted but they aren't sure.

August 20, 2007 –
University of Toledo - A laptop stolen from the University of Toledo's student recreation center had the personal information on more than 30 students' on its hard drive. The information included names and Social Security numbers. The information apparently was not encrypted.

August 20, 2007 – Channel Register
Pfizer – For the second time in two months a laptop containing Pfizer employee data has been reported stolen. This time the laptop was stolen from the car of an employee of consulting firm Axia. It contained the names and social security numbers of 950 Pfizer contract workers at the drug firm. The laptop was not encrypted. Also see

August 20, 2007 - Channel 2 News KTUU, Alaska
Providence Alaska Medical Center - A laptop computer that contains the personal information of up to 250 patients is missing from Providence Alaska Medical Center. The laptop contained names, medical record numbers, dates of birth and patient diagnoses. There may also have been some Social Security numbers and addresses on the laptop. No mention of data encryption.

August 13, 2007 - Wall Street & Technology
Merrill Lynch - A laptop containing staffing records and personal financial details of 33,000 Merrill Lynch employees was stolen from its corporate offices in New Jersey. The personal information included Social Security numbers. The laptop apparently was not encrypted.

August 6, 2007 – SC Magazine
Verisign – From a company that really should know better.... Verisign had an employee's laptop stolen from a parked car. The laptop contained names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, salary information, telephone numbers and home addresses of an undisclosed number of VeriSign employees. Verisign issues public key certificates that are used for encrypting information on the internet. Though they apparently require all laptops to be encrypted they are not enforcing it through technical means or audits. The employee who lost the laptop was fired. Also see for more information.

August 3, 2007 – Wave3 News
Mountjoy and Bressler / E.On U.S. – A laptop belonging to the accounting firm Mountjoy and Bressler was stolen from a parked car. On the laptop was the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of many E.On U.S. employees and some retirees. The laptop and data apparently were not encrypted.

July 21, 2007 – Stars and Stripes
Science Applications International Corp – A server belonging to the defense contractor Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) were left available on an open FTP server. Social Security numbers, addresses and medical files of more than 580,000 military households may have been compromised because of the breach in security. The data on the drive was not encrypted or otherwise protected.

July 17, 2007 -
Pfizer - A data breach that involved 17,000 current and former employees of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer went unreported for six weeks. Personal information exposed included names, Social Security numbers, and in some cases, home and cell phone numbers was compromised after an employee hooked up a laptop containing sensitive personal information to a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing network. The information on the laptop was not encrypted.

July 11, 2007- The Minnesota Daily
University of Minnesota – A laptop containing the names, e-mail addresses, University identification numbers and grades of a number of students. The laptop was stolen out of an assistant professor's locked car. The data was not encrypted.

July 9, 2007 – Rocky Mountain News
Girl Scouts Mile Hi Council – Backup tapes containing personal information from the council's membership database were stolen from a car. The data included names, addresses, phone numbers and the schools that members attend. Information from the years 2003-2007 is included in the membership database.

June 26, 2007 Toledo Blade
State of Ohio - Bureau of Workers' Compensation - State BWC officials say that a laptop was stolen from an employees home that contained personal taxpayer data. This is the second State of Ohi laptop with such data stolen in June. This laptop contained the names, Social Security numbers, and potential medical information of 439 injured workers.

June 19, 2007 – ComputerWorld
State of Ohio – Backups containing the personal data on over 64,000 state employees was stolen from an interns car. He apparently was responsible for storing the off-site backups at his home. UPDATE: This number was later raised to 225,000 to include taxpayers and now the estimate is over 786,000 taxpayers are affected.

May 21, 2007 –, Dallas/Fort Worth Texas
Productivity Center Incorporated – Laptops were stolen from a from a Texas company that contained the personal information on over 229,000 Texas law enforcement officers. Every licensed peace officer, jailer and telecommunicator in Texas was in the database on that computer. The information included Social Security numbers, birth dates, drivers license information, home address, home telephone number and other personal information. Officials have not said the information was encrypted so there is a strong likelihood that it was not. This information in the wrong hands could create some pretty scary situations.

May 21, 2007 –
Northwestern University - a laptop computer belonging to Northwestern University's financial aid office in Chicago was stolen recently. It contained the Social Security numbers of some alumni.

May 15, 2007 – ComputerWorld
IBM - An unnamed IBM Corp. vendor has lost tapes containing sensitive information on IBM employees. Information included dates of birth, Social Security numbers and addresses of current and former IBM employees. IBM isn't saying exactly how many but a large number of former IBM employees appear to have been affected. Some of the tapes were not encrypted but IBM isn't saying how many nor if this may have violated their own policies.

May 5, 2007 - Government
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – has lost a computer hard drive containing Social Security numbers, bank data and payroll information for about 100,000 employees. The portable hard drive had personal information on employees who had worked for the agency from January 2002 until August 2005. No mention of data encryption, OMB Memorandum M-06-16 was suppose to address this by requiring agencies to encrypt data on mobile devices Apparently this isn't being done.

April 29, 2007 – New Mexico
University of New Mexico – A laptop containing the names, e-mail and home addresses, UNM ID numbers and net pay for a pay period for staff, faculty and a few graduate students was stolen from a consultant working on UNM’s human resource and payroll systems. The University ID numbers must be used in conjunction with a password so those won't help anyone very much. But this is personally identifiable information (PII) that should have been protected. No mention of data encryption.

April 28, 2007 -
Caterpillar Inc. - A laptop computer containing personal data on employees was stolen from a benefits consultant who does work for the company. The company is declining to say how many employees are affected but Caterpillar has more than 90,000 employees around the world. The company is not providing many details but there is no indication that the data was encrypted.

April 25, 2007 -
Baltimore County Health Department - A laptop computer containing Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, telephone numbers and emergency contact information of over 6,000 patients was stolen from a Baltimore County Health Department building. But in what must be on page one of the public relations handbook a letter sent to those affected had the following comment "but the computer was protected by a password, lowering the risk of identity theft or other misuses". As we've often stated that statement probably is not true. If the thief wants data off the laptop the password will barely slow them down. You need to encrypt the data, and encrypt it correctly.

April 25, 2007 -
Neiman Marcus Group Inc. - Sensitive information on up to 160,000 current and former Neiman Marcus employees was contained on a laptop stolen from one of its consultants. The stolen laptop computer belonged to a third-party pension benefits plan consultant and contained a file with names, addresses, Social Security numbers, birth dates and salaries. "Computer files are supposed to be encrypted under the consultant's security policy but Neiman Marcus can't confirm if the information on the laptop was indeed protected. Therefore, the company is proceeding as if was not."

April 18, 2007 CNET
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – At least 490 IRS computers (mostly laptops) turned up missing between January 2, 2003 and June 13, 2006. Many of these computers had sensitive taxpayer information on them. “It is quite likely that sensitive data for a "significant number" of taxpayers has become available for potential identity theft”. An audit report recommended that the agency “embrace providing proper instructions on correct encrypting procedures for sensitive information, annual validation of backups, and physical checks of offsite record-storage facilities.” “investigators determined that about 126 of the incidents "contained sufficient details to show that personal information for at least 2,359 individuals was involved.” “Of 100 computers tested by the inspectors, 44 contained unencrypted "sensitive" data, including information about taxpayers and IRS personnel. Backup data stored on portable media at four offsite locations visited by the inspectors were also unencrypted and insufficiently protected from physical intrusion.”

April 17, 2007 -
Los Angeles County Department of Social Services' Refugee Employment Program - "A county laptop computer that contained individuals' Social Security numbers was stolen last month, according to a county report. The password-protected computer assigned to a county auditor-controller employee held the names and Social Security numbers of 28 people enrolled in the Department of Social Services' Refugee Employment Program." Of course this is hardly what a "refugee" new to our country needs to deal with. The fact that this information was not encrypted is negligence at best. The county says they are looking in to purchasing encryption software.

April 14, 2007 –
ChildNet – In what is admittedly just the tip of the iceberg in a rather disturbing case of suspected fraud, kickbacks, theft, etc. a laptop computer with personal information on 12,000 people applying to be adoptive and foster parents was stolen from ClildNet. The laptop computer contained the Social Security numbers, credit information and fingerprints on 12,000 applicants to ChildNet's programs, most of them applying to be foster or adoptive parents. There is a lot more disturbing details in this story including “ChildNet employees might have stolen Christmas toys donated to foster children”.

April 13, 2007 –
Bank of America - A laptop computer with the names, addresses, birthdates, and Social Security numbers of a “unspecified number of former and current employees” was stolen recently. “The computer was equipped with certain “information-protection features,” but they aren't saying what that might be. Bank of America has over 200,000 employees worldwide.

April 10, 2007 – SC Magazine
Affiliated Computer Services - “Disk with personal information of 2.9 million Georgia residents lost while in possession of breach-prone Affiliated Computer Services”. “Georgia health officials reported today that a vendor working with the Georgia Department of Community Health is missing a disk containing the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of 2.9 million Georgia health services recipients.” “"I think the key here is that the data on the CD, presumably, was not encrypted”. This seems to have received very little news media play which seems odd. Nearly 3 million people were put at serious risk of identity theft. This is also not this companies first time being in the news for losing huge amounts of personal data. One involved over 1.4 million people. See link above.

April 9, 2007 – NBC5 Chicago
Chicago Public Schools - Two laptops were stolen that contained the Social Security numbers of 40,000 Chicago school teachers. The article quotes a school official as saying “One of the laptops has biometric fingerprint encryption”. Chances are the biometric fingerprint was for “authentication”, not encryption. In which case its not going to do much to protect the data. If it truly was part of a good encryption application that was properly implemented then the teachers have little or nothing to worry about from that laptop. Of course the other laptop was apparently wide-open.

March 31, 2007 WYFF Channel 4 South Carolina
The Blood Connection – A laptop that was missing for up to two years before being noticed had Social Security numbers, birth dates and names of blood donors on it. Two rather disturbing quotes in this article. The first from a Blood Connection manager “There are several layers of protection for that information – log-in, user access codes (are needed) to get into the system.”. Ok, probably meaningless authentication such as a login password. The second quote is from state Sen. David Thomas who is looking to pass legislation on data protection “Encryption devices can be overcome with the correct technology”. Excuse me Senator but properly implemented AES encryption might be cracked by a hacker given about 16 trillion years. You won't be running for reelection by that time so don't worry about it.

March 27, 2007 – Hampton Roads, VA
Army Training and Doctrine Command – A laptop containing payroll information on 16,000 civilian employees was stolen from an employee's car. The laptop contained a database consisted of Social Security numbers, names and payroll information. The employee had permission to take the laptop home and it was protected with a Common Access Card (CAC). A CAC is used primarily for authentication and email encryption (public / private key), no mention is made that the data on the hard drive was encrypted.

March 25, 2007 - KOMO-TV Seattle, WA
Group Health Cooperative Health Care System - Two Group Health laptop computers containing the personal information of 31,000 people have been reported missing. The computers contain the names, addresses, social security numbers and Group Health ID numbers of local patients and employees. The laptops were "password protected" but there is no indication that the data was encrypted.

March 3, 2007 – FOX31.COM
Metropolitan State College of Denver - Nearly 1000 students names and social security numbers were on a laptop stolen earlier this week. The computer contained roster information of 988 students enrolled in the faculty member's classes from the beginning of the 1999 fall semester to the end of the 2002 fall semester. A college spokesperson said “This investigation may lead to disciplinary action”.

No Longer Supported

article index
page 1 - current : March 2007 to Present
page 2 : February 2007
page 3 : January 2007
page 4 : December 2006
page 5 : November 2006
page 6 : October 2006
page 7 : September 2006
page 8 : August 2006
page 9 : July 2006
page 10 : Prior to July 2006
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