Here we go again.
The Birmingham Post reports that:
Sep 15 2008 By Mark Cowan
POLICE in the Midlands have spent four days searching for a computer memory stick said to contain top-secret information on terror suspects.
The black 4GB stick was lost after being taken out of Castle Vale police station by an officer on patrol last Thursday.
Officers have raided at least one property in the hunt for the device.
Senior officers spent the weekend co-ordinating efforts to find it and it is understood that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has already been informed.
The disappearance of the memory stick is the latest in a series of blunders involving the loss of computer hardware containing personal information.
It was reported that the memory stick contains details of terror cells being tracked by police but the force refused to comment.
It is used to prevent terror suspects who are under surveillance being pulled over for routine road checks by unsuspecting police.
What device is this data being read from then - obviously not directly drom the 4GB USB memory stick itself.
It was reported that the officer put the stick in his pocket when called away to deal with a car crash and only realised it was missing at the end of his shift.
Detectives raided a house on Friday after an anonymous call from a phone box.
This rather implies a theft rather than just an accidental loss.
Alternatively, this could be as a result of the usual bureaucratic instinct to blame and harass the messenger or whistleblower who reported the incident.
A force spokesman said: "We are investigating the loss of a data memory stick.
"We are conducting an investigation and carrying out searches in an attempt to recover the lost item. We will not comment about the content of that memory stick."
The days of effort at recovery of the lost or stolen device, must imply that the data on it is not strongly encrypted
Even putting such current , tactical terrorism investigation data onto the very expensive new portable computers being issued to the Police is a huge risk - some terrorists or organised criminals would be willing to bribe, blackmail or kidnap and torture Police officers and / or members of their families, in order to access such data, which is of the highest importance to the criminals' or terrorists' own self preservation and to the success or failure of their plots.
See MoD data security and privacy breach blog category archive