ID-theft alert follows break-in at federal contractor

Computers containing stockholders' personal information were stolen from Science Applications International Corp.

Robert Lemos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Robert Lemos
covers viruses, worms and other security threats.
Robert Lemos
Government contractor Science Applications International Corp. warned stockholders on Monday that their personal information may be at risk, after desktop computers holding the information were stolen from the company's offices.

The theft happened Jan. 25, according to the company, and affects current and former stockholders. SAIC stressed in its statement that the information may not have been the target.

"We have no evidence that the thieves have accessed any personal information on these computers or that the purpose of the crime was identity theft," the company said.

Worries about what happens to private data housed in stolen personal computers have been highlighted before. In December, thieves stole a laptop from a California blood bank, putting in jeopardy as many as 100,000 individuals' personal records. Intruders broke into computers at the University of California, Berkeley, last year and filched 1.4 million database records containing identity information.

The latest incident is a black eye for SAIC, as the company handles many security contracts for the government. It stressed, however, that the security incident occurred at an administrative facility, not at a building where any government or commercial contracts are handled.

The company has also sent e-mail notifications to those affected and has established a help desk to field queries on the matter.

"We are troubled that this event has occurred but are working round the clock to mitigate any impact on our stockholders," SAIC said in its release.