Data of 74,000 affected by Coca-Cola laptops theft


Mon, Jan 27, 2014 - Page 15

Coca-Cola Co, the world’s largest soft drink maker, said data belonging to 74,000 individuals, including thousands of former and current employees, was compromised when company laptops were stolen.

Letters are being sent to 18,000 individuals, as well as third parties, whose names and US Social Security numbers were on the computers, the Atlanta-based company told employees on Friday in a memo.

Another 56,000 will be sent to those whose driver’s license numbers and other sensitive data were on the machines, it added.

“While we have no indication that your information was misused, we take the protection of personal information security very seriously and will offer free identity theft protection services for one year to all affected,” the company said. “We apologize for any concern or inconvenience this may cause you and we are taking additional steps to enhance our information protection practices.”

Coca-Cola’s disclosure comes amid heightened consumer concern about corporate data security.

Target Corp, the US’ second-largest discount retailer, said as many as 110 million customer accounts were compromised in a breach during the holiday shopping season. Neiman Marcus Group Ltd said on Thursday that about 1.1 million credit cards may have been compromised in an incident last year.

On Saturday, Michaels Stores Inc, the world’s largest arts-and-crafts retailer, said that some of its customer payment-card information may have been used fraudulently.

The company, which sells everything from painting supplies to floral arrangements to yarn, said it is urging customers to check their account statements for unauthorized charges and it is working with law enforcement and a third party to determine the scope of the problem.

US House of Representatives and Senate lawmakers are stepping up demands for greater scrutiny of data breaches at Target.

House lawmakers are planning a hearing for the first week of next month, while a Senate subcommittee was to hold a hearing on the data breaches. Customers have filed almost two dozen lawsuits again Target.

Coca-Cola’s laptops have since been recovered. Other documents on the computers, such as compensation, ethnicity and addresses, are considered sensitive by company policy, although not under US and Canadian law.

The laptops were retrieved from a former employee who was supposed to maintain or dispose of the equipment, Coca-Cola said. After learning the computers contained personal information last month, Coca-Cola brought in extra technical crews to sort through the data so legal notices could be sent, it said.