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NASA laptop stolen, contained employees’ social security numbers, birth dates


As technology continues to advance, businesses and organizations across the globe must deal with security breaches – and this includes NASA. The inspector general of NASA, Paul Martin, told Congress earlier this month that NASA has had 5,408 computer security lapses between 2010 and 2011, including a laptop that was stolen in March 2011, according to Discovery News. This computer contained information about how to command and control the International Space Station. Martin also discussed an attack by Chinese hackers on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“These incidents spanned a wide continuum from individuals testing their skill to break into NASA systems, to well-organized criminal enterprises hacking for profit, to intrusions that may have been sponsored by foreign intelligence services seeking to further their countries’ objectives,” said Martin.

These problems escalated even more after NASA predicted another breach that involved employee personal information, according to DailyTech. NASA recently emailed its employees, informing them of what information could be hacked into on the computer as well as the fact that a possible additional breach has occurred.

“The files included information on NASA KSC employees such as name, social security number, race, national origin, gender, contact phone number, e-mail, date of birth, college affiliation and grade point average,” the letter states, the media outlet reports. “Local and NASA law enforcement authorities are now conducting inquiries into the theft and the resulting potential for compromise of sensitive information. NASA takes this loss very seriously and has convened a Breach Response Team to address this situation.”

Between April 2009 and April 2011, there was a total of 48 laptops stolen from NASA, and only 1 percent of these computers were encrypted. The NASA IT department rarely patches its computers. Now, local law enforcement is helping the Breach Response Team in an effort to find the hackers as soon as possible, the news outlet reports.

Many business owners may be wary of the amount of information contained in their computers – information that could be detrimental to the company along with its employees if it is leaked. Regardless of the size of a company, business owners may want to implement an employee monitoring program to ensure their workers are protecting the company data along with making sure they are protected as well.