The umpteenth case of data loss – due to wild party?

by Michael Smith

How blasé can any government actually be as regards of sensitive data? It would appear that the British government is trying to provide an answer to that question for there is no other way, I am sure, to explain all this kind of careless sloppiness, which by now borders on the criminal negligent, in the handling and dealing with sensitive information and data.

Now, this time, the travel plans and destinations and other details of seventy soldiers of the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment.

The data in question was stored on a USB-Stick and this little comrade is now, since the year 2004, the 120th stick that has been lost by the British government and it agents.

The lost stick was lost and found in the Nightclub “The Club” in Newquay, Cornwall. How it got there and how it was lost is till now unknown. Maybe it would be a good idea to actually ask which member of staff it was who had the grandiose idea to carry that stick with him or her with such sensitive data into a nightclub.

The loss of this stick and the unencrypted data on the stick could have been rather dangerous for the soldiers concerned, especially in light of the always mentioned danger from terrorists. In fact it is rather amazing that to this very day none of the lost data has, apparently, not fallen into the wrong hands and been misused. This despite the fact that in most instances none of the data has been encrypted in any way, shape or form.

To any terrorist the lost stick with the data of the soldiers would have been a goldmine and would have made them very happy indeed. On the UBS stick were contained the exact times of travel, the destinations and all routes and planned accommodation. Phew! Only good it did not get into the wrong hands and was found by an honest person. One day the luck will, however, run out, of that we can be sure.

The Ministry of Defence has only called this incident in its statement a “unhappy incident”. To call this attitude blasé probably is an understatement. How can any government and government agency have such attitude with such kind of sensitive data? This is especially difficult to understand as hardware encrypted USB sticks are no longer costing a fortune and regardless of cost, such data should, if stored on USB sticks, should, nay must, be put onto such sticks that are encrypted to the highest standard. Otherwise the day will come when the luck will finally run out and such data found will be used against this country and us, as the people of this country.

© M Smith (Veshengro), September 2008