'Home Office' disc wedged in laptop sold on eBay

Powered by SC Magazine
 

A laptop containing what could be sensitive Home Office data has been sold on eBay.

The laptop was bought by an unsuspecting consumer who subsequently took the equipment to be fixed by Leapfrog computer repairs in Greater Manchester. It was only as the laptop casing was opened that a disc was discovered wedged beneath the keyboard.

“It is a real mystery as to why the disc was jammed there, although it was obviously put there deliberately," said Lee Bevan, Leapfrog's managing director.

“The only way a disc can get inside the system would be through the CD Rom but this is a sealed unit,” Bevan added.

The disc had the words "Home Office" and "Confidential" written on it. But Leapfrog was not able to verify the authenticity as the contents were encrypted. If the disc is proven to be from the Home Office, it would be another major public sector IT security embarrassment.

IT experts said that encryption on the disc shows the public sector is learning from previous mistakes, but warned that the Home Office remains vulnerable to data leaks.

“Unfortunately accidents like this are not going to stop happening so we can only hope that other government departments follow the Home Office's lead and adopt full disc encryption,” said Brian Spector, general manager for content protection firm Workshare, adding “With the statistics showing that nearly 500 government devices have gone missing since 2001, it was only a matter of time before a confidential disc inadvertently ended up on eBay.”

Alan Bentley, Lumension Security European vice president, pointed out encryption alone is not infallible. “Computer hackers are determined individuals with the potential to crack one layer of security,” Bentley said. “And, we certainly shouldn’t be relying on one line of protection when it comes to our national security.”

Bentley said safeguarding sensitive data needs to begin at the network level. “By monitoring and only allowing known good devices and authorised individuals to connect to a network and download data is essential.”

He added the key is to reducing data breach risk is to have data access control and encryption working hand-in-hand, as well as giving individuals who have rights to download data from the network stringent security checks.

The encrypted IT equipment is now in the hands of the Greater Manchester Police, who are investigating the incident.

itweek.co.uk @ 2010 Incisive Media


'Home Office' disc wedged in laptop sold on eBay
 
 
 
Top Stories
Westpac interim CIO resigns
Group CIO yet to be appointed.
 
Earning the right to innovate
Breaking down the barriers to innovation is a long, but rewarding process, says Bank of Queensland Group CIO, Julie Bale.
 
A call for timely reporting
[Blog post] Businesses need incentives to keep customer data secure.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...
Latest Comments
Polls
What is delaying adoption of public cloud in your organisation?







   |   View results
Lock-in concerns
  26%
 
Application integration concerns
  3%
 
Security and compliance concerns
  29%
 
Unreliable network infrastructure
  9%
 
Data sovereignty concerns
  22%
 
Lack of stakeholder support
  3%
 
Protecting on-premise IT jobs
  5%
 
Difficulty transitioning CapEx budget into OpEx
  3%
TOTAL VOTES: 871

Vote