Police force raids house in search of lost memory stick

Filed Under: Data loss, Law & order

Has anyone looked under this police helmet for the missing memory stick?

The British West Midlands Police force have confirmed that they are searching for a USB memory stick reported to contain top secret information about suspected terrorists.

The West Midlands police, however, are refusing to answer questions about the contents of the device.

The 4GB pocket-sized USB drive was lost last Thursday, after a police officer attending a car crash discovered it had gone missing last Thursday. British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has been informed, and officers from Castle Vale police station are said to have raided at least one property over the weekend in their hunt for the tiny device.

The information contained on the device is said to include details of terrorism suspects who are being monitored by the authorities - the police force is said to use the information to prevent suspects being pulled over for routine roadside checks by unsuspecting officers.

Presumably the police would not be in such a rush to get their memory stick back if the data held on it was encrypted. As there has been no mention of encryption in any of the media stories of this incident, one can only assume that this embarrassment could have been easily avoided by following best practices.

* Image source: Major Clanger's Flickr photostream (Creative Commons 2.0)

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Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, and veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.