By Jaikumar Vijayan
October 30, 2007
The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. has notified about 237,000
policy holders of a potential compromise of their personal data.
The warning followed the loss of three backup tapes containing the
names, addresses, Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers
of customers of the company's personnel lines claims center. The tapes
were discovered to be missing on Sept. 27.
So far, there is no evidence that the tapes were stolen or that the
information has been misused, a company spokeswoman said. Hartford
Financial Services has no idea if the tapes were misplaced while in
transit to another location or if they went missing inside the company.
But the information contained on them could only be read with "the use
of sophisticated and expensive equipment," she added.
As a precaution, the company is offering a year's worth of free credit
protection services from Equifax, the statement said, The services
include credit monitoring, unlimited credit reports and $20,000 in
identity theft protection. Individuals who elect to implement credit
freezes on their credit lines will also be eligible for a reimbursement
of the costs associated with that freeze, the company said in a
The Hartford breach is similar to scores of others in recent years
involving the loss or theft of computers and media containing sensitive
personal data. Security analysts have recommended that companies use
encryption to mitigate potential data loss in such situations. Many
companies that have been reluctant to do so because of cost concerns end
up paying significantly more in notification and other costs when a
breach occurs, analysts have previously noted.
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