'EastEnders' laptop theft highlights failure to encrypt data say IT security experts

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The recent reports that a laptop containing the Christmas scripts for BBC TV's long-running EastEnders soap could cost the corporation dearly, warns Credant Technologies, the end point data protection specialist.

"Whilst it sounds an amusing tale, the fact that the laptop was stolen during a burglary brings the theft of the laptop firmly into focus. It shows that laptop thefts can occur anywhere and at any time - and that companies need to be aware of this issue," said Paul Huntingdon, Credant's UK director.

"The danger here is that the plotline for the Christmas episodes will leak out before Christmas and reduce the soap's viewing figures, almost certainly to the benefit of other broadcasters," he added.

What is potentially worse, he went on to say, is that, if the scripts do fall into the wrong party's hands - perhaps by being posted on the Internet - then a third party could profit from the situation, without any money going to the BBC coffers.

Imagine, he explained , if this script loss had occurred to ITV and the Christmas scripts to Coronation Street or Emmerdale were leaked - this could cost ITV real revenue in advertising terms, as the advertisers would almost certainly demand some of their expensive Christmas ad payments back.

More than anything, the Credant director said, this shows how a failure to encrypt the data on a laptop that is subsequently stolen can have potential direct and indirect revenue consequences.

"It remains to be seen what the BBC will do about the script losses in the longer term, but I wouldn't be surprised to see threats of legal action flying around if the scripts do

find their way into the public domain," he said."

And a legal action that claims compensation for a failure to protect a laptop's data could be very interesting from a security perspective. It might even wake up a few corporate minds who have ignored the security issues with portable PCs, and that's no bad thing," he added.

I must says that it keeps amazing me that people just have not protection on their computers that will make any such theft useless and better still to have sensitive data such as that on an external hardware encrypted device which will prevent unauthorized access.

When the child has fallen into the well it is – generally – a little late to put a cover on the thing and the same is also when stuff gets lost or stolen.

I believe we all remember the British secret service agent who left an ordinary USB stick with all the data on the anti-drugs operation they were running in Colombia at a railroad station.

For the price of less then US$ 20 (for the cheapest encrypted devices), compared to the US$5 for the unencrypted kind, an entire operation was compromised. But this keeps going on and on and, it would appear, no one learns.

For more on the EastEnders' Christmas script laptop theft: http://preview.tinyurl.com/yz6be6k

For more on Credant Technologies: http://www.credant.com

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