BP has confirmed that an employee has lost a laptop containing the names, social security numbers, phone numbers, and addresses of 13,000 compensation claimants resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.
The data contains a mass spreadsheet of filed claims before the Gulf Coast Claims Facility took over claim processing in August, however, the personal information is now at risk for the spill victims. BP has reported that while the computer was password-protected and can be remotely disabled, the information itself was not encrypted. In an effort of recovery from the troubled company, BP is offering to pay for the claimants to have their credit monitored by Equifax credit bureau.
A spokesman for BP, Curtis Thomas, has stated that the company sent letters to the 13,000 affected and notified them of the possible breach of security and payment offer for credit monitoring. Conversely, reporters from AP had found at least 2 claimants who never heard from BP.
Thomas also stated that the company reported the missing laptop to law enforcement, which was, according to BP, lost in routine business travel, and not believed to be intentionally stolen.
BP did not immediately notify the claimants, whose information was compromised, waiting nearly a month to disclose the matter on the grounds that they were investigating the situation. The company is unable to give any information regarding the employee who lost the computer, or where or when the incident took place, without risk of jeopardizing the investigation taking place. Thomas said in response that BP is extremely committed to the Gulf Coast states and residents affected by the spill and they deeply regret this occurrence.
Vice President for Technology at BP, Tom Prescott, wrote in BP’s magazine that with over 7,000 servers and 400 company locations, he believes an “uncomfortable” amount of information is being stored on ‘C’ drives of laptops, instead of proper data storage avenues. He revealed that with the relative inexpensive means to securely harness their data, BP, as a company, has not been disciplined in its management of the information.
The oil goliath has paid about £250 million in compensation before the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) takeover operation, and as of this week, the GCCF has dished out £2.2 billion to 172,539 claimants affected by the rig explosion.
The Deepwater Horizon oil well off the Louisiana coast spilled an estimated 205 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico last April and killed 11 rig workers.