Coca Cola has been sued in a class action filed on behalf of 74,000 employees whose personal information including Social Security numbers was compromised when 55 laptop computers containing unencrypted personal information was stolen from a bottling plant in Pennsylvania and its headquarters in Georgia. In addition to not encrypting sensitive personal data maintained on portable laptop computers, the lawsuit also alleges that Coca Cola was slow in notifying affected employees that they were in danger of identity theft. Some affected employees have apparently already become victims of identity theft as a result of this data breach.
All computers including laptops containing personal information should be protected by strong passwords. Particularly for laptops which are often taken out of corporate offices by employees, data should be encrypted, yet many companies and government agencies, including notoriously NASA which suffered multiple data breaches due to unencrypted laptops, fail to take this basic security precaution. It is inexcusable and way too common. As individuals, we are only as safe as the places with the weakest security that hold our personal information, which is why we need to be particularly vigilant in freezing our credit reports and regularly monitoring our credit card usage in order to protect ourselves from the negligence of others.