Over 1,000 laptops have gone missing
from the U.S. Commerce Department since 2001, according to a
department-wide review of missing, stolen or lost laptops. Most of
the missing laptops belonged to and were used by the Census Bureau.
The department did not release a list of number of people affected by
the laptop losses. All of the laptops have some sort of encryption
protection to help prevent anyone accessing personal information
stored on the hard drives.
People defending the Census Bureau have
been quick to point out that the numbers may not be as serious as
reports indicate. Some temporary employees receive laptops to
complete their work, and may not return the laptop after the job is
completed. The department's report also discovered that 113 of the
missing laptops were not returned by former employees.
Stolen or lost data and computer
hardware has been a reoccurring problem for a number of companies and
government agencies lately. Congress is becoming more concerned with
all of the lost data and laptops that the government has been
responsible for lately. The Department of Veterans Affairs admitted that millions of veterans were at risk after a security breach. The Department later announced that another
laptop containing the personal data of up to 38,000 veterans had been
stolen. Three laptops were stolen from a locked storage closet in an American Red Cross office in July.