- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

D.C. officials yesterday decried a lack of security on a stolen laptop containing the personal data of 13,000 city workers and said the city should reassess its contract with ING Financial Services, which owned the computer.

“I have a laptop, [and] it has multiple layers of security,” said council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat. “Why theirs didn’t is startling. … It gives me serious doubts about this company.”

“The incident is inexcusable, and we have to hold someone accountable and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said council member Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat and mayoral candidate.

The theft of the laptop — which contained personal data such as Social Security numbers — has caused concern that the information could be used for identity theft. The computer was not encrypted or password protected.

ING yesterday mailed letters to the 13,000 workers, notifying them of the possible identity theft and encouraging them to enroll in credit monitoring and identity-fraud protection through the company Equifax.

The company will pay for the identity-protection costs provided through Equifax, an ING spokeswoman said.

An ING employee reported the laptop stolen from his home in Southeast on June 12, but company officials said they waited to inform the city about the theft until Friday in order to determine what information was on the computer.

“We wanted to investigate what was on his laptop, determine what sensitive material was on there,” ING spokeswoman Caroline Campbell said. “It did take some time to get those reliable facts.”

Maryann Young, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer, said officials are “concerned” about the amount of time between when the computer was stolen and when ING reported the theft.

Miss Young said the city’s contract with ING, which manages one of two retirement plans available to D.C. employees, expires in December and the chief financial officer can make a recommendation on renewing it to the council.

Miss Young could not comment yesterday on whether her office would support plans to continue working with ING.

Mr. Graham, a member of the Committee on Government Operations, said ING must make significant security improvements to continue with the District.

“They’ve got to show us something very different in terms of competence,” he said.

Metropolitan Police Capt. Michael E. Reese said officers are investigating the burglary but do not think the personal data was targeted.

Miss Campbell said ING has since adopted an aggressive policy to ensure all company laptops meet encryption and password requirements.

The company has restricted any laptop from being exposed in public until it is properly protected, she said.

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