A hacker illegally gained access to a computer of The Nature Conservancy containing personal information on about 14,000 people, including current and former Nature Conservancy employees and their dependents, the nonprofit organization confirmed yesterday.
According to a report, the hacker used an undisclosed Website to gain access to a Nature Conservancy computer on September 12.
Nature Conservancy spokesman Jim Petterson said when employees accessed the Website, the site planted a program on the employees' computers that copied the contents of their hard drives and sent the information to the hacker.
The stolen information included the names, home addresses, Social Security numbers, and birth dates of current and former U.S.-based employees who had worked at the Conservancy during the past seven years. It also included direct deposit bank account numbers for employees who were on the payroll between 2000 and 2004, as well as the Social Security numbers of those employees.
Information on employees who started after August 3 of this year was not stolen, according to an email sent to Nature Conservancy employees.
The email, which was sent September 25 by CIO Jean-Louis Ecochard, describes the theft as "a serious issue, one that exposes some employees and former employees to greater risk of identity theft." A letter of warning was sent to the last known addresses of all former employees on September 21, the report says.
The theft was also reported to the FBI and Arlington County, Va., police, he said. No one has yet reported a problem related to the theft, officials said.
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