May 16, 2007

Privacy and Security Watch: IBM loses tapes with personal information on current and former employees

It seems even the great IBM can be affected by such problems as losing tapes containing social security numbers and other personal information on employees and retirees, along with records of customer transactions.

According to this article, "An outside vendor was transporting the tapes from one IBM facility to another on Feb. 23 when the tapes fell out of a contractor's vehicle in Westchester County, N.Y., not far from IBM headquarters in Armonk. IBM representatives went to the scene and couldn't find the tapes."

For some reason, only some of the missing tapes were encrypted.

Richard Kuper
The Kuper Report

May 10, 2007

Privacy and Security Watch: University of Missouri Hacked For Second Time This Year

According to this article, The University of Missouri has been hacked for the second time this year. The hacker gained access to the social security numbers of over 22,000 students and alumni through a Web page that was used "to make queries about the status of trouble reports to the university's computer help desk."

Back in January, there was a similar breach. In that case, "a hacker obtained the Social Security numbers of 1,220 university researchers, as well as personal passwords of as many as 2,500 people who used an online grant application system."

Richard Kuper
The Kuper Report

May 09, 2007

Court Permits Search of Personal Computer in Workplace

According to this article at, "a federal court has just held that an employee did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the personal computer he brought to work." It seems that because this employee and a co-worker otherwise had to share a common personal computer, this employee decided to bring in his own computer and connect it to his employer's system. The employer, in this case, was a city government. The employee made no effort to protect any information on his personal computer and left it on and in a public space -- even when he was not at his desk. This failure to password or otherwise protect and guard the personal information on his personal computer eventually led to the discovery of child pornography on his personal computer. That eventually led to the appellate court case that resulted in this decision.

As the article concludes, "if you want to maintain your privacy rights under the Constitution, you yourself must keep your private matters private."

Richard Kuper
The Kuper Report