Data breach at Boeing exposes 382,000 employees

The third theft of a Boeing laptop in the last 13 months has exposed the data of nearly 400,000 employees and retirees.

The seemingly endless stream of data thefts continued on Tuesday as aircraft giant Boeing Co. said that a company-owned laptop containing the personally identifiable information of nearly 400,000 of its employees and former workers was stolen recently.

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According to published reports, the laptop was taken earlier this month and contains the names, credit card information and other sensitive data belonging to 382,000 Boeing workers and retirees. This is the third such incident in the last year or so for Boeing, based in Chicago.

Another computer containing information on about 160,000 company employees was stolen in November 2005 and data on more than 3,500 workers was put at risk when a laptop containing the information was taken in April of this year. After each of the earlier incidents Boeing has notified the affected individuals and offered help in enrolling in credit-watch services to detect any fraud resulting from the data thefts.

Boeing is hardly the only organization to face such thefts in recent months. Ameriprise Financial Inc., Kaiser Permanente, UCLA, the University of California at Berkeley and dozens of others have all had similar thefts affecting tens of thousands of people. In fact, on Monday Ameriprise agreed to hire a consultant to review the company's security procedures for laptops as part of an agreement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts resulting from the theft of a company laptop in January. The company also will pay $25,000 to the state to cover costs of the investigation.

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