A stolen laptop belonging to Nasa contained sensitive personal information on employees and contractors, the space agency has confirmed.

The laptop was password protected but the information stored on it was not encrypted, according to a report by the New York Times.

“On October 31 2012, a Nasa laptop and official Nasa documents issued to a headquarters employee were stolen from the employee's locked vehicle. The laptop contained records of sensitive personally identifiable information for a large number of Nasa employees, contractors and others,” a notice issued to agency employees stated. “We are thoroughly assessing and investigating the incident and taking every possible action to mitigate the risk of harm or inconvenience to affected employees.”

Nasa confirmed that it is aiming to have all of its laptops running whole disk encryption software by the end of the year.