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A Tale of Lost Tapes

Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), parent of a firm that offers Ethernet-based IT services, has lost a truckload of backup tapes containing information on hundreds of thousands of employees.

In a statement late today, the company acknowledged the loss of tapes containing information on past and present employees and their families that was being trucked to Iron Mountain Inc. (NYSE: IRM) facilities for storage.

"The missing tapes contained company data including names and U.S. Social Security numbers of: current and former U.S.-based employees of Time Warner and its current and former affiliates (and U.S. citizens working for the company abroad); some of their dependents and beneficiaries; and certain other individuals who have provided services to the company," stated Larry Cockell, senior VP and chief security officer at Time Warner, in a statement.

Company spokeswoman Kathy McKiernan won't say exactly where the tapes came from within the organization, whether the information was also backed up on disk, or whether the tapes were encrypted, but she says the data on the tapes was "in a form difficult to understand." Details are being withheld in order not to compromise an investigation being overseen by the U.S. Secret Service, in which both Time Warner and Iron Mountain are involved.

Iron Mountain did not respond to calls and email requesting comment. But on April 21, that company issued a press release acknowledging four recent incidents of lost backup tapes and admonishing customers to make sure to encrypt their data before trucking it to the firm's sites.

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