Laptop Encryption Saves The Day In Stolen UK Laptop And CD eBay Sale. I Say They Have Bigger Problems Now.

Several sources are reporting that a CD and laptop from the British Home Office got sold on eBay.  The Home Office, also known as the Home Department, is that part of the government responsible for internal affairs: security, crime, counter?terrorism, border security, things of that nature.  A complete list is available on Wikipedia, if you’re interested.


Fortunately, and some may point out it should be expected (but we know how that works out), both the laptop and CD were encrypted.  But the circumstances under which they were found are troubling, and makes me wonder about the other information security breaches over the past six months.


A laptop was bought on eBay.  The winner took the laptop to a service center because it wouldn’t work.  So, a technician pops open the keyboard portion to take a look—that’s how you get to the innards of a laptop—and there’s a CD jammed between the keyboard and the motherboard.  The CD is labeled “Home Office: Private and Confidential.”  The technician tries to access it and it’s encrypted.  He takes a look at the laptop.  That, too, is encrypted.  He alerts the authorities and six counterterrorism officers arrive the next day, poking, prodding, photographing, and doing other CSI stuff.


To me, from a security standpoint, everything looks good, with the exception that there was a data security breach in the first place and…why the next day?  I’d imagine that the situation would have required immediate action?  Those English sure are leisurely.  Maybe they’re comfortable knowing that they used strong, advanced encryption. (Something that AlertBoot offers, by the way.  Plus, management tools for easy auditing, so you and your IT department can be on top of everything.)


Anyway, as a person who’s popped open several laptops in his lifetime to install more RAM, I can tell you there’s not much space in there.  Also, you can’t pop open a keyboard by accident.  It’s also hard to forget something as big as a CD in there.  To begin with, it’s a huge area of uniform color when compared to the actual innards of a motherboard.  In other words, a guy placed the CD in there on purpose.  Because the laptop and the CD are both from the Home Office, chances are this was perpetrated by someone working there.  I have to conclude that someone at the home office decided to steal data.  Premeditatedly.  Unless other details show up, it’d be hard to conclude otherwise.


The laptop itself could have been stolen or lost, and then put up for sale on eBay.  That’s incompetence or an honest mistake; pick a side.  But the CD?  The CD poses a problem that cannot be easily swept beneath the rug.  It looks like the Home Office has a serious problem and will have to start looking inside their department for answers.

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