Uh oh! During some "routine business travel," a BP employee managed to lose a laptop which contains the personal data of the thousands of Louisiana residents who filed compensation claims after the Gulf oil spill:

BP spokesman Curtis Thomas said the oil giant on Monday mailed out letters to roughly 13,000 people whose data was stored on the computer, notifying them about the potential data security breach and offering to pay for their credit to be monitored. The company also reported the missing laptop to law enforcement, he said.

The data contained on the computer included a spreadsheet of the notified individuals' names, Social Security numbers, phone numbers and addresses. BP explained that the laptop was password-protected, but not encrypted.

Awkward. But for what it's worth, the claimants at least won't have to refile for compensation as there are backups of the lost information. [Yahoo]