Laptop, BlackBerry and disc stolen from HSE

10 Sep 2008

The Data Protection Commissioner is investigating the theft of a laptop, BlackBerry mobile device and a data disc from the home of a Health Services Executive (HSE) employee who was working on a survey on the influenza vaccine.

It is understood that the HSE employee was engaged in a survey gathering information on the provision of the influenza vaccine to 1,150 healthcare workers late last year.

The information contains details such as names, addresses, dates of birth, contact phone numbers, GP names and occupational data.

The equipment was stolen from the HSE worker’s home last week.

The laptop is understood to have been password protected but was not encrypted.

This is the latest major security breach to rattle the nation, following embarrassing revelations of laptop theft in public and private organisations.

Last month it emerged that as many as 390,000 details of social welfare recipients were contained on a laptop stolen at a bus stop from an executive with the Comptroller & Auditor General’s Office.

Earlier this year, a laptop belonging to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service containing details of 175,000 blood donors was stolen in New York.

In the case of Bank of Ireland Life, a number of laptops went missing in the past year with details of 31,000 life assurance account holders and these weren’t protected by encryption technology.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years