USB drive lost by police was not encrypted

News 9 Mar, 2009

Investigation information stored on a USB drive has been lost by Lothian and Borders Police.

A USB drive is missing from Lothian and Borders Police with details of hundreds of police investigations.

A police spokesman confirmed to IT PRO that Lothian and Borders Police are “unable to locate this ‘memory stick,’ which contains information on vehicle registration marks and other details used for police analysis”.

The memory stick was last used by staff working within the Road Policing Division of Police Headquarters in Edinburgh and an intensive search is advancing quickly to find it. They will review how information is handled and transported within the organisation.

“It is understood that the information contained on the stick was not encrypted as it was information being transferred within a secure compound within Police Headquarters,” the police spokesman revealed.

The spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police stated that they have a responsibility to protect the confidential information they are trusted with, and that they are confident that this loss does not “compromise any individual involved in any ongoing or previous police investigations”.

A security expert warned that the only way to ensure full security with a USB drive is to have the information stored on it encrypted.

“This shows why data on USB drives must be encrypted at all times – because they get misplaced, or easily removed from those secured areas,” said Jason Holloway from SanDisk, on the need for encryption for security purposes.

“The only way to protect data is to use mandatory encryption whenever it is moved or copied, and to ensure that users can’t turn off, disable or work around that protection."

Click here to read the lessons we all should have learned about data breaches by now.