The theft of a Stanford University laptop computer has threatened to compromise the personal information of tens of thousands of current and former employees of the university.
The laptop included some or all of following personal information, according to The San Francisco Chronicle: "employees' names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, business titles, work and home phone numbers, home addresses, salaries, and Stanford e-mail addresses and employee identification numbers."
The theft could effect the personal information of as many as 72,000 people hired by the university before September 28, 2007.
The San Jose Mercury News reports:
The university declined to disclose details about the theft while an investigation is under way. Officials would not say when, or where, the laptop was stolen. Police and Stanford authorities are conducting a search for the computer.
The computer does not contain driver's license numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers or other financial information, the university said.
Stanford has no evidence that any of the information on the stolen laptop has been accessed, said Randy Livingston, Stanford's vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer.
The university has responded by offerring credit monitoring for all those affected by the breach in an effort to protect their identities from theft. The university also promised to do better at protecting such sensitive information in the future.
The laptop theft at Stanford University is just another in a string of incidents where a laptop packed with personal information was stolen. At the end of March, the National Institutes of Health had to notify 2,500 patients that participated in a clinical trial that a laptop containing their personal information had been stolen in February. The Bureau of Veteran Affairs also had a laptop stolen in 2006 which contained confidential information on 25 million veterans and military personnel.
Academia and government aren't the only sectors that have a problem securing laptops and the personal information within. "A 2007 study by the Ponemon Institute, a privacy think tank in Traverse City, Mich.," reports the Chronicle, "estimated that 73 percent of corporations experienced the loss or theft of a data-bearing portable device such as a laptop in the preceding two years."