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Security Firm VeriSign Encounters Data Theft

VeriSign, the vendor for digital certificates and in charge of the .net and .com domains of Internet suffered data loss in July 2007 owing to theft of an employee's laptop from his vehicle. An un-estimated number of existing and ex-employees could face threat of identity theft as a result of the burglary that occurred in a parking garage on July 12 or 13 in northern California.

The information in the laptop included names, dates of birth, home addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers and salary details of several employees at VeriSign. The Mountain View, Calif-based Company said the device did not contain passwords or bank account numbers.

VeriSign reported that the company employee has quit the organization. It also said that the vendor is gearing up its policies on data protection, such as how to handle laptops holding company data and other sensitive information, which the employee did not follow. The policy also requires not keeping laptops inside vehicles within easy visibility, storing in them only a minimum amount of sensitive and confidential data, and encrypting the data that must be loaded in such a computer.

VeriSign has taken the laptop burglary very seriously. It started an investigation immediately after its discovery. The company further said the laptop was in a shut down state and it required a username and password to start up Windows. So if the thieves are not able to determine the password or use data retrieval techniques, the data might remain safe.

The company has no evidence of the thieves intending to dig out the information and misuse it. The police in the locality said the theft could be part of a succession of burglaries in the neighborhood. The vendor has cut off the computer's access to the company network.

VeriSign said it was ensuring that all those employees at potential risk due to the theft would receive the necessary support for their credit monitoring and how they should act if they detect any problems.

At the time when such thefts are becoming commonplace, it is especially perplexing for a security company like VeriSign to feel the sting.

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