ERIC Number: EJ805410
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jul-4
Reference Count: N/A
Increase in Stolen Laptops Endangers Data Security
Foster, Andrea L.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n43 pA1 Jul 2008
Patrick A. Grant was stolen in April. A thief walked away with a laptop containing the University of Virginia biochemist's name and Social Security number, as well as those of more than 7,000 other professors, staff members, and students. The machine belonged to a university employee who had taken it off campus--and then it was simply taken. The next month, Mr. Grant discovered that criminals had amassed at least $22,000 in debt under his name. The April theft was at least the sixth college security breach involving laptops in 2008. Also in April, a consultant for SunGard, a major national software vendor, reported his laptop stolen. It contained confidential data on tens of thousands of current and former students on at least 20 campuses across the country. In June Stanford University had a laptop stolen that contained names, Social Security numbers, and salaries of 62,000 current and former employees. The problem has grown as laptops' popularity has increased. The mobile machines can be carted to class, to the library, or off campus. But their easy portability also makes them great targets for thieves. The consequences can be a nightmare for the institution as well as for the person coping with identity theft. Colleges can be penalized or lose funds under federal privacy laws if the missing machines contain sensitive data. And many states have recently enacted laws that require colleges to follow costly procedures for notifying those affected by security lapses. As a result, more colleges are trying to rein in the use of confidential data on laptops. When such information has to be on a laptop, they are pushing encryption software to protect it. Some colleges are also subscribing to tracking services to recover stolen machines.
Descriptors: Computer Software, Computers, Computer Security, Crime, Confidential Records, Student Records, Internet, Debt (Financial)
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://chronicle.com/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Virginia
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Social Security