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QUINCY, Mass. -- After a "security breach" by one of its vendors, Ahold USA here sent letters last week to some former employees telling them that their personal information, including birth dates and Social Security numbers, could possibly be accessed by others.
Ahold didn't disclose how many people were potentially affected by the breach, but they're limited to retirees and terminated associates, Ahold USA spokesman Barry Scher told Progressive Grocer.
The information in question was in a laptop computer that was lost -- perhaps stolen -- early last month during a flight from Philadelphia to Boston by an employee of Plano, Texas-based Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS), which provides data-processing services for Ahold's pension plan.
The computer, which was checked with the baggage in violation of EDS policy, was password-protected, although the information wasn't encrypted. However, no other party has misused the missing data as yet. The two companies informed the airline, law enforcement agencies, and the three national credit bureaus of the matter, and the possible theft of the laptop remains under investigation.
EDS said that the employee who lost the computer had been disciplined, but gave no further details.
Ahold has set up a toll-free help line for those potentially affected and is offering free credit reports, along with free credit monitoring for a year, to protect against identity theft.
In other Ahold/EDS news, the chain is reportedly planning to outsource its Dutch and American retail divisions' application support and maintenance services by the middle of next year, according to European press reports. Ahold is also outsourcing its global helpdesk and data center monitoring services, and reducing the number of data centers in the two countries as part of the retail conglomerate's strategy to streamline its "scattered IT environment" and save $199.5 million over the next five years, according to the reports.
EDS's subsidiary in Mumbai, India will handle application development and maintenance services for the Stop & Shop and Giant-Carlisle arenas. Ahold said that outsourcing the services won't cause job losses in the divisions. EDS's Mumbai business will also run Ahold's desktop global support services, while its Kuala Lumpur unit will take over global data center monitoring starting early next year.