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University employees told private data is on stolen laptop

US official mulling greatly expanded airplane laptop ban
Posted at 1:11 PM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 14:14:33-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A University of Nebraska-Lincoln consultant’s laptop that was stolen during a trip to Rome contained personal and financial information of more than 900 current and former employees, the school said.

Those affected work or worked for the university’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The consultant helps manage the institute’s employee retirement benefits.

The names, Social Security numbers, home and email addresses and financial account information on the laptop were password-protected but not encrypted. Encryption provides extra security but less access convenience, according to cybersecurity experts.

A University of Nebraska system spokeswoman, Melissa Lee, said Wednesday that the theft has left administrators “troubled and frustrated.”

“We don’t have any reason to believe that employees’ personal information was the target of the theft or that any information has been misused in any way, but we’re taking this incident seriously,” Lee said. “Our Information Technology Systems division has begun a rigorous investigation.”

Lee declined to provide the consultant’s name.

The university has offered a year’s worth of identity theft protection to those affected, which will cost the school about $9 per person. It also has hired a Madison, Wisconsin, law firm to help warn the staffers about potential problems. The Michael Best law firm also offers expertise in developing, implementing and maintaining a reliable cybersecurity strategy.

Mike Boehm, the ag institute’s vice chancellor, urged the employees to routinely check their credit reports for any new accounts or suspicious activity.