Boeing Laptop With 382,000 Names and Social Security Numbers Stolen

Boeing reported this morning that a laptop containing the names and Social Security numbers of 382,000 workers and retirees was stolen. Boeing has had two previously reported incidences of stolen laptops with sensitive employee information. In 2005, a laptop containing the names and ss#’s of 160,000 current and former employees was stolen. And, in April 2006 another laptop containing the same info on 3,600 employees was stolen. Wow! Over half-a-million employees exposed to identity and credit fraud in just over 12 months. That’s just crazy. It is especially disturbing when you consider that Boeing is a military contractor with National Security contracts.

Boeing spokesman Tim Neale stated that the laptop was turned off when it was stolen and requires a password to access the data (uber-security, huh?). “It’s not necessarily an easy task to access the information there,” Neale said. Boeing has also stated that, in all three cases, company policy was violated, but has not described how.

All of this begs the simple question- why is any of this information on a laptop to begin with?

Consider this- Laptops and other mobile computing devices are the least secure IT tools employed by businesses today. They are infinitely more vulnerable to theft and hacking than PC’s or servers. A Gartner Group study found that 15% of business laptops are stolen annually. So, why do companies and government organizations keep such sensitive personal information on them? Maybe I am missing something, but I just don’t get it.  

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