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Nearly 500 Internal Revenue Service laptops — many likely containing unencrypted personal information of taxpayers — were lost or stolen over a 30-month period ending in June 2006, according to an audit released last month.
The audit, conducted by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, found that between Jan. 2, 2003, and June 13, 2006, a “large number” of laptops were stolen from the vehicles and homes of IRS employees, while 111 were stolen from various agency facilities.
Although auditors were unable to determine exactly what information was contained on the missing laptops, they did conclude that personal information of taxpayers is not adequately protected.
IRS head: All laptops to be encrypted within weeks
After an auditor found serious security problems in the way it handled sensitive data on laptops, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service said it will have all laptops encrypted within the next few weeks.
Speaking in an interview with National Public Radio over the weekend, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark Everson said his organization was making the effort following a recently released audit that found unencrypted data on a large percentage of IRS laptop computers.