A portable USB storage device containing data relating to police officers has been discovered abandoned on the street and has led to serious questions being raised over how such a significant data loss was made possible.
Current reports suggest that over 2000 pages of data which is considered to be top secret were contained on the USB drive. It was allegedly only meant to be accessible to high ranking officers, but this restriction was scuppered after it was found on the pavement close to a station house in Greater Manchester.
The exterior of the USB drive was emblazoned with a logo identifying it as property of the Greater Manchester Police service and amongst the data it contained were details relating to police tactics and strategies when dealing with attacks from petrol bombs and acid, as used by riot officers. On top of this it is claimed that the names, ranks and divisions of many officers were also listed in documents contained within the USB drive.
A 34 year old man, who has asked to remain anonymous, discovered the portable storage device and told the Daily Star Sunday, that it could easily have been exploited by terrorists.
The unnamed individual speculated that a senior officer must have lost the USB device and said that malicious groups could have targeted officers based on their speciality, as outlined in the data.
Also amongst the data, according to the man who found the device, were detailed technical drawings which show how riot police are trained to control crowds. This intimate knowledge of police tactics would be seriously damaging in the wrong hands.
Security expert Terry Greer-King said that this latest data loss scandal shows that many groups are continuing to use unsecure portable storage devices, despite the fact that, by doing so, they leave themselves completely open to exploitation.
Mr Greer-King is one of the many industry insiders who call for blanket encryption of all portable storage devices, to ensure that, even if they are lost, the data which they contain remains inaccessible.