A laptop containing private details, including bank details, of 30,000 civil servants across Northern Ireland was stolen during a break-in at a government office in Belfast.
The Northern Ireland Civil Service department has confirmed that an urgent investigation is underway after the laptop was stolen from the office on Upper Queen Street.
The break-in occurred at the office of the Department of Finance and Personnel’s corporate human resources offices.
The laptop contained such details as names, addresses, insurance numbers and date of birth, as well as a number of bank account details.
Investigators are prioritising civil servants whose bank account details were on the computer, and all the relevant banks and building societies have been informed.
The Department of Finance and Personnel stated: “The intruders managed to gain access to one of the floors occupied by the Civil Service’s Corporate Human Resources office, from where a number of laptop computers were stolen. In accordance with Northern Ireland Civil Service data security procedures all of the laptops were password-protected.
“In view of the nature of Corporate HR’s business, namely strategic personnel issues for the Northern Ireland Civil Service, the Department of Finance and Personnel is currently conducting an urgent investigation into what information was stored on these laptops, and what risk, if any, may be posed to civil servant’s personal data.
“In light of that analysis, we will ensure that staff are notified accordingly and advised what precautions, if any, are appropriate. The PSNI is currently conducting an investigation into the break-in,” the department stated.
By John Kennedy