A thief recently walked into a University of California, Berkeley office and swiped a computer laptop containing personal information about nearly 100,000 alumni, graduate students and past applicants, highlighting a continued lack of security that has increased society’s vulnerability to identity theft.
University officials waited until Monday to announce the March 11 crime, hoping that police would be able to catch the thief and reclaim the computer. When that didn’t happen, the school publicized the theft to comply with a state law requiring consumers be notified whenever their Social Security numbers or other sensitive information have been breached.
…The laptop stolen from the UC Berkeley was supposed to be encrypted this month, Felde said. The computer, which required a password to operate, was left unattended for a few minutes in a restricted area of a campus office before someone walked in and stole it, Felde said. A campus employee witnessed the theft and reported it to university police.
Authorities suspect the thief was more interested in swiping a computer than people’s identities. Felde said there been no evidence so far to indicate the stolen information has been used for identify theft.
The stolen laptop contained the Social Security numbers of UC Berkeley students who received their doctorates from 1976 through 1999, graduate students enrolled at the university between fall 1989 and fall 2003 and graduate school applicants between fall 2001 and spring 2004. Some graduate students in other years also were affected.
The stolen computer files also included the birth dates and addresses of about one-third of the affected people.
My question is, why did all that information reside on a laptop? It most like would be in a database. It is baffling to me that such information would not be in a centralized database and accessed from the laptop. This way IT could apply safeguards to the information. I also wonder how many other computers at UC Berkeley have this information on it? Very scary in todays climate of identity theft.