Laptop with students' information stolen

January 25, 2008

By Lauren Boyer, Collegian Staff Writer

A university laptop containing archived information and social security numbers for 677 students attending Penn State between 1999 and 2004 was recently stolen from a faculty member while traveling earlier this month.

David Lindstrom, chief privacy officer at Penn State, said he believes the theft was random and "had nothing to do with Penn State."

"We have no reason to believe anybody's information has been compromised, but you need to take precautions, watch your credit, and just be careful," he said.

Lindstrom wouldn't reveal the location of the theft, because he doesn't "want the bad guys to know what they have."

Lindstrom added that, as required by law, letters are being sent to individuals whose information was believed to be in the laptop.

"It's also on the National Crime Information Center database, so every police department in the United States can try to find it," he said.

Lindstrom said the type of information stored on the stolen laptop is no longer stored on devices.

"That was the way the university used to do business," he said. "We converted in 2005 to using the Penn State ID number to store information."

He added that university laptops have been stolen before and recovered, but this is the first time this type of sensitive information has been at risk of exposure.

main page ATTRITION feedback