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Non-Encrypted Hall of Shame
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December 27, 2006 Evansville Courier Press
Deaconess Hospital – A laptop containing personal and medical information on 128 patients is missing and is presumed stolen. The laptop was used in the respiratory therapy department to record personal and medical information of the patients. Besides medical information the laptop also contained the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of patients. In what is becoming cliché here is what a hospital spokesperson had to say about the data: "The computer was password protected, so with my limited computer skills I could not have gotten information off of there. But there could be some hackers out there who can." The are also “considering” encryption software. Please if you are a spokesperson and a non-encrypted laptop has just been stolen please don't even bother to mention it was password protected. It is child's play to download the necessary software to change a Windows Administrator password if the person has physical access to the computer.


December 21, 2006 KGET.COM
Santa Clara County - a computer was stolen that contained the social security numbers and other personal data of people who used the agency's job-skills program. Again with the meaningless PR statements “officials say thieves might be able to hack into computers for Social Security numbers” yet they also say the following “the risk of identity theft is low because the information was protected by passwords”. Of course what all this means is the data wasn't encrypted and they hope the computer was stolen by someone that has ever used a computer before. Passwords are easy to bypass, good encryption isn't.


December 14, 2006 Courant.com
Concentra Preferred Systems – Backup tapes were stolen from a lockbox that contained information from various insurance companies, including: Aetna and WellPoint. These companies hire Concentra to audit the medical claims submitted by their customers. The tapes contained social security numbers, medical billing information, and other personal data on over 130,000 people. The companies all stated that the risk of identity theft is low. Why? Because the thieves would be unlikely to have the same type tape drive and software in order to restore the data, not because it was encrypted (it obviously wasn't or they would mention it). This reasoning is no longer valid. Tapes can be sold to criminal organizations (here in the U.S. or overseas) that can obtain the proper equipment (it can be rented for a few days at minimal cost).


December 14, 2006 SeattlePI.com
Boeing Inc. – A laptop was stolen from a company employee's car that had the personal information of approximately 382,000 workers and retired Boeing employees. The information included salary information, Social Security numbers, home addresses, phone numbers and birth dates. Jim McNerney, Boeing's chairman, president and chief executive, said in a letter to employees "This latest incident resulted from a clear violation of our data-protection policy.” "We have very strict and clear policies and procedures about how employee information is handled", "An employee, despite proper training, failed to comply with those requirements and as a result is being dismissed from the company." But in another show of ignorance of computer security the article went on to say the following (this is the newspaper reporter, not Boeing) “Even though the employee data was not encrypted, the laptop was turned off. That means the person who stole the computer would not be able to access the employee data without a password to open the computer once it was turned on.” Yea, that might slow them down a bit. At least 4 or 5 minutes while they boot from CD with software that allows them to change the Windows Administrator password. Then they simply boot up normally and login with the new password. Please people, encrypt your data. Windows login security does not protect you if someone has physical access to your computer.


article index
page 1 : March 2007 to Present
page 2 : February 2007
page 3 : January 2007
page 4 - current : 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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