Sensitive information stolen

(UWIRE) A laptop recently stolen from a University employee at an undisclosed, off-Grounds location contained sensitive information, including the Social Security numbers, of about 7,000 students, staff and employees.

University spokesperson Carol Wood explained that the employee should have deleted the information before leaving Grounds. She also said although employees normally do not carry confidential information, the victim of the robbery was working on a special project.

“The laptop was password-protected, and because of the nature of the robbery, it seems the person was more interested in the computer, wallet, et cetera,” she said.

Albemarle County Police are conducting an investigation, Wood said, and the Information Technology and Communication Office contacted those affected.

“ITC sent out a letter to all 7,000 people and that they should be watching their credit in case, but the police thought it was highly improbable that this information had been accessed,” she explained.

To avoid occurrences like this one in the future, the University has been trying to phase out its use of Social Security numbers as personal identification numbers since last summer.

“The University is in a very aggressive campaign to eliminate the use of Social Security numbers,” Wood said. “This summer every department that has not already eliminated the use of Social Security numbers has to have plan in place as to how they’ll do that, and by summer of 2009 all should be eliminated.”

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