SUGAR WATER SELLER Coca-Cola has apologised for compromising thousands of people by allowing unencrypted company laptops to be stolen from its headquarters in Atlanta.
The company confirmed in a statement sent to The INQUIRER that the theft might have compromised the personal information of around 74,000 individuals.
"The Coca-Cola Company has sent notices to about 74,000 North America-based employees, former employees and other third parties informing them that some of their sensitive personal information was contained in documents on CCR and former CCE laptop computers that were stolen from the Company.
"We have no indication that the information was misused. However, we understand the concerns some people may have and therefore, to demonstrate an abundance of caution."
To try to make amends Coca Cola is offering free identity theft protection services to all those affected.
"We take personal information security very seriously, and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause," the company added.
The company recently recovered the stolen laptops, which were taken on December 10, and discovered that sensitive information was stored on the unencrypted devices such as credit card details.
In response to the news Iron Mountain head of information risk Christian Toon said that the security breach demonstrates how much work there is still to be done in fostering a culture of information responsibility within organisations.
"This particular breach occurred when a member of staff who was supposed to be disposing of hardware instead stole laptops with unencrypted personal data on them," Toon said.
"This highlights a particular failing in many information security strategies - where firms do not understand the risk that staff pose to company data, especially if that member of staff has a grievance against the company or is leaving their job.
"Employers need to realise that responsibility for information security is not just about robust guidelines and processes, but also about improved people management and understanding."
Coca-Cola hit the headlines just over a year ago when news spread that the conglomerate was hacked in 2009 but never revealed the incident.
A report at the time alleged that hackers made off with information relating to Coca-Cola's attempted $2.4bn takeover of the China Huiyuan Juice Group. µ