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Stolen McCain party laptop had minimal data safeguards

A laptop containing GOP “strategic information” that was stolen from a regional party headquarters in Kansas City last week lacked any security safeguards beyond basic password protection, a party spokeswoman said Monday.

Tina Hervey, spokeswoman for the Missouri Republican Party, said the organization had not previously considered measures such as encryption to protect against the unauthorized access of sensitive data.

“I think we're now thinking that,” she told SCMagazineUS.com, “but up to this point, no.”

Thieves broke into the “Kansas City Victory Office” sometime during the night of Sept. 30 and stole the Dell laptop belonging to the party's regional coordinator for the Kansas City area, Hervey said.

The machine contained “the type of stuff we wouldn't want another campaign to have,” Hervey said. She would not elaborate.

The data involved GOP races from the president down the ticket, she said.

The burglars appeared to have targeted the stolen machine, choosing to pass on a number of other computers throughout the office, Hervey said.

“If you were stealing money, you would take 23 computers,” she said. “If you were stealing for underhanded reasons, you take one computer.”

Phil Dunkelberger, CEO of encryption firm PGP, said campaigns must be run like corporations and therefore make it a priority to protect intellectual property and other critical data.

“These campaigns seem to be run on laptops, BlackBerries and emails,” he told SCMagazineUS.com “These campaigns, when you think about the money they are spending, are like multibillion dollar businesses"

He said encryption could have saved the party from any worry.

"If it was encrypted and they didn't leave the passphrase written on the computer somewhere, then the (criminals) have got basically a brick," Dunkelberger said.

Police have no suspects in the investigation, Hervey said.

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