Chevron springs data leak

Chevron has a messy spill to clean up, but it's not an oil spill; it's a data leak.

The oil behemoth circulated an e-mail to its U.S. employees last Monday, cautioning them that a laptop "was stolen from an employee of an independent public accounting firm who was auditing our employee savings, health and disability plans," according to today's San Francisco Chronicle.

The laptop was swiped on Monday, Aug. 7, according to the report, and contained data such as Social Security numbers and other private data of potentially thousands of employees. The name of the public accounting firm was not disclosed.

According to the report, the e-mail, sent to "U.S. Payroll Employees" by Peter Robertson, Chevron's vice chairman, offered assurances to workers that "we believe it is unlikely that any Chevron benefit plans will be impacted by this theft with the security measures we have in place for those plans."

Nonetheless, the e-mail continues, "in order to mitigate any identity theft issues related to this event, we are offering a comprehensive set of services paid for by Chevron to affected plan participants."

Reports of data leaks are becoming regrettably common these days. In recent months, for example, government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs have reported thefts of personal data. The VA announced earlier this week plans to invest $3.7 million in encryption technology in an effort to prevent future data leaks.

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