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FTC laptops containing personal data stolen

Another US agency makes security blunder

The US FTC (Federal Trade Commission) will shortly notify 110 people that two laptop computers containing their personal data were stolen from a locked vehicle.

The information includes individuals' names, addresses, Social Security numbers and "in some cases, financial account numbers", the regulatory agency said yesterday. The laptops are password-protected, and the FTC said it had no reason to think the data on the laptops, rather than the laptops themselves, was the target of theft.

Those affected include defendants in current and past FTC cases. The agency was sending letters to them with information about how to limit their risk of identity theft and offering a year of free credit monitoring.

It's only the latest case in which sensitive information has been lost on government computers. In May, the US Department of Veterans Affairs said personal data for 26.5 million veterans may have been compromised after a break-in at an analyst's home.

The analyst had violated a department security policy by taking home the sensitive data. The incident prompted calls for all government agencies to adhere more closely to the Federal Information Security Management Act.

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