The global communications equipment provider said in an online advisory that the disk was either lost or stolen between April 5 and May 3. The disk was prepared by Hewitt Associates for delivery by UPS to another of the company's vendors, Aon. It disappeared in transit.
Alcatel-Lucent, which sells security products, didn't say how many people are affected by the data loss.
According to the advisory, the information contained on the disk includes names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and the salary data of U.S.-paid employees who worked for Lucent, along with their dependents. It also contains data on Lucent retirees and their dependents.
Customer information reportedly wasn't affected.
News of the Alcatel-Lucent data loss incident comes just one week after IBM confirmed that one of its contractors lost more than one tape containing identifying information on current and former IBM employees. IBM isn't saying how many employees are affected by the lost data, how many tapes are missing, or how they went missing, according to Fred McNeese, an IBM spokesman. He added that the company doesn't believe the tapes were stolen. IBM ran an ad in local papers offering a reward for the return of the tapes.
Alcatel-Lucent said it's running an internal investigation. The company also reported the data loss to local and state law enforcement, along with the Secret Service.
"We recognize that we have a responsibility to carefully protect this type of information, and deeply regret this loss," said Frank D'Amelio, chief administrative officer for Alcatel-Lucent, in a written statement. "We are taking steps to try to prevent this from happening in the future. In the meantime, we will provide information and assistance to our employees and retirees to help them minimize any potential risk this incident could create for them."
The company told employees about the problem in an e-mail on May 17 and is reportedly preparing a printed mailing to send to employees, retirees, and any dependents who are affected.
Alcatel-Lucent announced that it is arranging to provide those affected with free identity theft protection and credit monitoring for one year. Credit monitoring services will include unlimited online access to credit reports and scores, monitoring of all three national credit bureau reports, e-mail alerts to inform individuals of key changes to their credit reports, and fraud resolution and assistance.