Stolen UC Berkeley Laptop Exposes Personal Data of Nearly 100,000


Stolen UC Berkeley Laptop Exposes Personal Data of Nearly 100,000 – from

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.

Posted March 28, 2005 by
Bizarre, General | 4 comments

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  • Comments

    4 Responses to “Stolen UC Berkeley Laptop Exposes Personal Data of Nearly 100,000”

    1. Nosmo on March 28th, 2005 10:20 pm

      The data was on the laptop for the same reason that all of the computers and laptops every place I have worked have privacy act info on them. The users find the databases too complicated to use, so they whine until someone shows them how to dump a report and manipulate it in Excel.
      The users never back up said data to the secure fileservers, prefering the store it where the “LAN geeks can’t lose it”, thereby ensuring its inevitable destruction due to the user’s penchant for collecting malware and bunging up their PCs.
      They squeal like pigs when ever they lose their data, and have to do “all that work” to get it back.
      The LAN Geeks just look the other way, no matter what we network security types say. No Support from the upper echelons of the Corp.

    2. Tom on March 29th, 2005 8:52 am


      I am sorry that your experience with LAN Geeks has been so bad. I ran an IT department for a while and I promise you, when someone lost data that was housed on my server, it was a priority (meaning someone did not go home for dinner till it was recovered). If it was their fault it got deleted, we were good about it. If the problem was on our end, it was a grade A priority.
      IT sometimes forget that it serves the company. I work as an independent now, and it does not matter what the customer did to get into trouble, all that matters is that I do what needs to be done to help them. If I can not help them, and it looks like I did not do everything possible, I lose a customer.
      Corporate IT types should feel the same way.

    3. The Broadside » Laptops should never contain confidential data, duh! on September 16th, 2005 8:10 pm

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