One tall data loss and an apple bran muffin to go

Filed Under: Data loss


Uh-oh. The identitities of some 97,000 employees of Starbucks have been put at risk after a laptop was stolen at the end of October. It's unclear why the coffee house giant has waited four weeks before informing its workforce. The incident, which was only made public this week, is not the first time that Starbucks has reportedly lost laptops containing information about employees.

In the latest security breach, names, addresses and social security numbers are said to have been stored on the lost laptop.

What is most disturbing, however, is that no mention is made of the sensitive data on the computer being encrypted in the letter sent to affected employees:

Starbucks data loss letter

Starbucks says it has informed the police, and is working with a credit watching service to warn if employees' credit rating should suddenly change (a possible indication of identity theft).

But if the data on that computer's hard disk had been properly encrypted in the first place then Starbucks workers would have a lot less to worry about.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley