Breach, Data Security

Morgan Stanley client data goes missing

The personal information of tens of thousands of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney investment clients has gone missing.

How many victims? 34,000.

What type of personal information? Names, addresses, account and tax identification numbers, as well as the income earned on investments in 2010, and some clients' Social Security numbers.

What happened? Two CD-ROMs containing the sensitive information went missing after being mailed to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. It appears that the package made it to the department intact, but by the time it reached its intended recipient the discs were missing. The state notified Morgan Stanley Smith Barney about the breach on June 8.

Details: The discs were were password-protected, but not encrypted.

Quote: "There's no evidence that there was any criminal intent here, or actual misuse of this information," Jim Wiggins, according to a spokesman for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

What was the response?  The investment firm conducted a search of its facilities and did not locate the discs. Notification letters were sent to affected individuals on June 24. The company has offered to provide a one-year, free subscription for monitoring services to those whose Social Security or tax identification numbers were lost.  

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney said it will work with the state to improve the security of data transmissions.

Source:, ABC News, “Data of 34,000 Morgan Stanley Clients Lost or Stolen,” July 6, 2011.

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