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NASA 'nauts personal DATA at risk after laptop SNATCH BUNGLE

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A NASA laptop containing personal records of thousands of employees and contractors was stolen two weeks ago.

The computer, which contained a copy of workers' social security numbers among other information, was taken from a locked car near NASA HQ in Washington DC on 31 October, according to a leaked email.

The laptop was password protected, but the disk was partially unencrypted: "the information on the laptop could be accessible to unauthorized individuals," Richard Keegan, NASA's associate deputy administrator, wrote in the agency-wide memo published on the SpaceRef website. The missive went on to warn:

Because of the amount of information that must be reviewed and validated electronically and manually, it may take up to 60 days for all individuals impacted by this breach to be identified and contacted.

NASA has hired data-breach specialists to help tackle any fraud or identity theft in the wake of the blunder. As a result of the theft, NASA's chief administrator Charles Bolden has demanded that no agency laptops be allowed out of the property without full-disk encryption.

Bolden wants all NASA laptops fully encrypted by 21 December, has banned the storage of sensitive files on smartphones and tablets, and told everyone to purge sensitive files from laptops when they are no longer needed.

The Reg contacted NASA for comment but as yet has received no reply. ®

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