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British MoD Stunned By Massive Data Loss

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the austin-powers-meets-the-peter-principle dept.

Security 166

Master of Transhuman writes "Seems like nobody can keep their data under wraps these days. On the heels of the World Bank piece about massive penetrations of their servers, the British Ministry of Defense has lost a hard drive with the personal details of 100,000 serving personnel in the British armed forces, and perhaps another 600,000 applicants. This comes on the heels of the MoD losing 658 of its laptops over the past four years and 26 flash drives holding confidential information. Apparently the MoD outsources this stuff to EDS, which is under fire for not being able to confirm that the data was or was not encrypted."

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alsjkhaok jasdpaiosdj asdasiodjas (1)

Fanboy Fantasies (917592) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337659)

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sdflsjkdf

Hardly 3 hours (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337673)

Hardly 3 hours since the last post on /. about
UK Govt wanting to spy.

Re:Hardly 3 hours (4, Insightful)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337781)

They want to spy more so they can gather more information to lose.

Seriously, lately it seems not a week goes by without some ridiculous data leak in the UK. Whether it be thumbdrives that automatically log into private networks, laptops being stolen, documents being left on a train, confidential information being lost in the post etc...

They won't need the Data Protection Act much longer in the UK because there'll be no data left to protect as it'll all have been leaked.

Re:Hardly 3 hours (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338797)

They want to spy more so they can gather more information to lose.

Note that GCHQ is never the company that loses data. Then note who would be looking after the data in the previous story.

Re:Hardly 3 hours (4, Funny)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338981)

or they're just moving to a more distributed data system, they want to spy on you so they can see the data you now hold. Its like a bittorrent data-storage solution, all these 'lost' laptops and pendrives is a secret mechanism of distributing the data in the most widely and random way - thus adding to the security of the overall system, as no-one else knows where its ended up.

See, its simple really :-)

Re:Hardly 3 hours (4, Insightful)

Dr. Hellno (1159307) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337903)

"I'm just looking forward to when the data gets lost."

From the summary of that post. 3 hours ago.

...Holy Crap.

We know they're abusing their power. We know that they're incompetent!
And it never changes! It just happens again and again and again!
I don't know whether to laugh or cry or scream or kill or just give up anymore. I just don't know.

Re:Hardly 3 hours (2, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337923)

We know they're abusing their power. We know that they're incompetent!

And it never changes! It just happens again and again and again!

Isn't that the definition of a government?

Government Incompetence? (5, Informative)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338475)

Isn't that the definition of a government?

Not really. Where I work [irs.gov] , any laptop connected to the network is checked at every connection for the presence of active full disk encryption software. If it isn't found (which can happen when computers are being built and the encryption installation hasn't been completed) then an immediate alert is sent to the support staff nearest the machine. In response to that alert, the machine must be encrypted or seized immediately. We're talking same-day action, here, with the consequence of inaction being that someone gets fired.

The result is that when we lose (usually through theft but the method is unimportant in this context) a laptop, we can immediately report that said laptop was fully encrypted and no data was lost or is at risk.

If we need to let a contractor on our network, we set up one of our laptops to meet all security requirements and lend that hardware to the contractor. No contractor is allowed to put their machine on our network.

Finally, when data is written to removable media, it's encrypted. We run a software package (Guardian Edge) that forces all writes to removable media to be encrypted. It's a pain sometimes, but it's the least we can do to keep the publics private data safe.

Frankly, I'm shocked that the MOD would accept less stringent practices on the part of contractors. I know we don't.

Re:Government Incompetence? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338537)

Great job, way to piss on our parade of mocking government incompetence. I hope you're happy with yourself.

(Please don't audit me!)

Re:Government Incompetence? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25339141)

My dad works for a company contracted to do some system for skynet (yes they seriously called their new satellite network skynet WTF) and all his files are stored remotely via a VPN* w/ keycard, even though his local hard drive is encrypted and all hes doing is writing the training manual for the system.

I seriously doubt the MOD would accept less stringent practices on the contractors, wether the contractors fucked up or not is another question.

which is good as his laptop can only connect to WEP wireless because its locked down so much.

Re:Government Incompetence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25339155)

Interestingly, EDS just finished an initiative to encrypt all their hard-drives, similar to the process described here. Was it an internal response before the news became public?

Re:Hardly 3 hours (1)

ObitMan (550793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338371)

well at least you know now that If they get something on you, the info probably won't stick around long enough for them to prosecute.

No, no, no (5, Informative)

gowen (141411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337677)

the British Ministry of Defense has lost a hard drive with the personal details of 100,000 serving personnel

No. EDS lost a hard-drive, belonging to the MoD. Had to get that in before the "Government is intrinsically incompetent" posse got here. EDS, a privately owned and run subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard, subcontracting to the MoD, were responsible for the security of this drive, and they, not anyone at the MoD did the losing here.

Re:No, no, no (1)

Zsub (1365549) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337707)

Still: this is the umpteenth time the UK gov't has lost data. How often does this happen anyway? Do other gov'ts just manage to keep it secret that they lose this much sensitive data? I am quite amazed...

Re:No, no, no (3, Informative)

gowen (141411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337755)

this is the umpteenth time the UK gov't has lost data.

Are you reading impaired, or just an idiot?

No member of -- or person directly employed by -- the UK Government lost this data. EDS, a long-established, privately owned subsidiary of Hewlett Packard, lost this data.

Re:No, no, no (4, Insightful)

Zsub (1365549) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337793)

Are you just an idiot?

How does the fact that this company loses the gov'ts data not imply that the gov't loses data? Please tell me if this logic is flawed...

And does it actually matter who loses the data? I mean, I don't live there, I can't be arsed, it's not my private information but the whole point of my post was that the UK gov't loses data. Who exactly magically makes the disks or flashdrives disappear is besides the point.

Re:No, no, no (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338669)

If you burn the office of the premier minister, it's not as if the premier minister has committed arson. If a privately owned company loses data, it's the company which loses the data, independent of the rightfull owner of it.

Re:No, no, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338705)

It's also that thinking that lets companies patent things for what amounts to forever. Or to break laws for which no single human must answer. CEOs know this as they cash their checks. Just ask the folks at AIG; they're teaching Enron a few things.

Re:No, no, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338849)

If you burn the office of the premier minister, it's not as if the premier minister has committed arson. If a privately owned company loses data, it's the company which loses the data, independent of the rightfull owner of it.

If the Prime Minister hires a cleaning staff without checking them for a history of arson or other felonies, and doesn't pay attention to if there are large amounts of gasoline being brought into the office, then a member of that staff burns down the office, yeah, it's at least a good part the PM's fault (or rather, whoever did the hiring).

Or, car analogy- if you let your kid drive the car without instructing him/her on safe driving or sending them to a driver's ed class, and they wreck your car, yeah, it's at least partway your fault.

Re:No, no, no (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338933)

Still it's the cleaning staff who gets convicted for arson. And with an underage kid you are responsible for everything he does because he is underage. If they were someone else's kids driving your car, their parents have to pay you for the wreckage (even if you are responsible for the damage done by your car).

Yes, the government is responsible for due diligence, it is responsible to get its helper (may they be external companies or the own staff) to conform to data protection regulation. It is even responsible to recover the lost data and shield the persons affected by the data loss against harm.

But nevertheless: It was an incompetent, privately owned company losing the data, and not a government.

Re:No, no, no (2, Insightful)

bwcbwc (601780) | more than 5 years ago | (#25339167)

And before you go blaming those dam' foreigners, EDS is in this business in the UK because they bought the large UK contractor Scicon back in the 1990's. So regardless of the ownership, the people responsible for the operational f-ups that caused loss of the drive are probably home-grown.

Re:No, no, no (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337797)

you are stupid.
MoD did lose the data, because they gave it to an incompetent company to handle.
you suck at logic.

Re:No, no, no (1, Informative)

gowen (141411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337819)

EDS has been around since 1962. To quote Wikipedia:

EDS's largest clients include General Motors, Bank of America, Arcandor, Kraft, United States Navy, the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal Dutch Shell.

But, hey, if an anonymous coward says they're an "incompetent company", that's good enough for me. I stand corrected.

Re:No, no, no (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337849)

if they run their business like who they're owned by (HP as you pointed out)

then yes, they are incompetent.

Re:No, no, no (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337907)

Different AC here, but that list of clients look familiar. I'm sure half of them have been on slashdot about lost data or poor security standards at one point or another in the last year yes?

Re:No, no, no (2, Informative)

captain_dope_pants (842414) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338167)

EDS are regularly in a UK magazine called Private Eye - usually for being useless or money grabbing or somehow winding up with yet another Govt contract when their track record isn't that good.

Re:No, no, no (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338257)

Heh, I just remembered, I've dealt with EDS before.

I had to fix something for them. A consulting gig of some sort (I don't recall) the customer, or partner or them, called us up because we fix other consultants screw ups.

EDS is incompetent. (In my limited experience)

Re:No, no, no (3, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338435)

EDS used to have a facility in Livingston (basically right in the middle of Scotland) where they printed welfare cheques (photos of the abandoned plant here [28dayslater.co.uk] ). This closed down when they went to paying by BACS or similar. Anyway, according to a couple of people I know who were hired by contractors to clear all the media and computers from the site, there were quite a few highly unsavoury types handling not just storage devices and backup tapes, but also paper records while the building was being cleared. No background checking, nothing.
What utter fucktards.
(incidentally, posting this showed up an oddity of the URL parser - if the URL wraps so there's a space between 'href="' and 'http" then it breaks, big time.)

Re:No, no, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338815)

Ok. I work for EDS, and I agree that it's incompetent. I don't have a point to make, but here's my rant:

Full hard encryption is forced upon us (Pointsec) and it slows down my laptop at times (like when the virus scanner chooses to go off just when I need to get an important piece of information quickly) to the point of being useless. We support hundreds of servers (all for the same client) with NO directory services configured, and we have to change our passwords on them every three weeks. All hail sticky-notes on the monitor, eh! Even though I have no personal client data on my laptop, I still bear with the pain, and pay the price for the few morons out there who lose their laptops that do.

We have plenty of good techs, but there is also plenty of fools and poor management. Maybe the 26,400 jobs that HP cuts over the next 3 years will take care of some of that.

Re:No, no, no (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25339181)

We have plenty of good techs,... Maybe the 26,400 jobs that HP cuts over the next 3 years will take care of some of that.

fixed

Re:No, no, no (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337953)

Sorry, are you implying that EDS are not an incompetent shower of useless bastards who routinely fail to deliver, deliver late or deliver wildly outside the scope of what was contracted?

Re:No, no, no (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337833)

Incompetent is one possibility... so is espionage. Perhaps it's a Bond PR stunt.

Mod Parent +1 Correct (2, Insightful)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338951)

The MOD must demand from it's subcontractors a certain level of service, and be responsible for it. "Well it wasn't our fault, it was that guy" doesn't cut it when it comes to state secrets.

Get better subcontractors next time or DIY, retards.

Re:No, no, no (2, Insightful)

i'm lost (1247580) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337827)

So the problem is actually that the MoD is stupid enough to entrust their data with a private company that's too incompetent to avoid losing data? That's just as bad, I'm not sure what you're defending here.

Re:No, no, no (2, Insightful)

tendrousbeastie (961038) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338069)

It seems resonable to assume that the MoD are not putting sufficient emphasis on data security when placing contract with private companies. There have been several instances of private companies losing government data. The common factor is the government involvement. Seems that their procurement contract ought to be drawn up in such away to put safeguards against this happening. That is why it is the UK Govternment's fault.

Re:No, no, no (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338263)

It seems resonable to assume that the MoD are not putting sufficient emphasis on data security when placing contract with private companies.

Well, that's not an entirely invalid inference, but I don't see how you can infer that just from the data that's given.

None of us is privy to the terms of the contract. You can guess what's in them if you like, but your guess are far more likely to be based on your biases than any actual facts available to you. So please don't pretend there's any syllogism involved. When you asy "assume" here, it just means "guess".

If there is a plane crash is it "reasonable to assume that the airline is not putting sufficient emphasis on their planes not crashing"?

Re:No, no, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338321)

In this case the assumption is based on a pattern.

Several different private companies have recently been found to loose government data. With no other common denominator involved than the government, it seems like a safe assumption in som way the cause is related to the government.

Certainly an assumption is more similar to a guess than it is to a certainty, but in the face of only minimal eveidence one has to either make assumptions or drop out of the conversation (as there is nothing to talk about).

Without certain assumptions this story is essentially "some data was lost. We don't know enought to talk about it".

Re:No, no, no (3, Interesting)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338223)

EDS has been responsible for quite a number of screwed up Government IT projects in the UK. Somebody at the MoD was responsible for giving the data to that incompetent shower.

Re:No, no, no (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25339199)

the contract has propably been around since before we knew EDS was incompetent, the gov contractors have a habit of signing long contracts with "and we still get all the money if you cancel early" clauses.

Re:No, no, no (1)

lazy_playboy (236084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338463)

> No member of -- or person directly employed by -- the UK Government lost this data. EDS, a long-established, privately owned subsidiary of Hewlett Packard, lost this data.

Whether it be the government itself, or an agency acting for the government, this is still the government doing the losing.

> Are you reading impaired, or just an idiot?

!?! Lay off the caffiene.

Re:No, no, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338559)

Angry bastard, aren't you. The government can delegate the task of looking after data to contractors - but can't delegate responsibility. The MoD is accountable for this.

Re:No, no, no (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25339023)

EDS doesn't tie their own shoes without getting a government bureaucrat to sign-off on the deal.

Re:No, no, no (3, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337749)

What exactly is the MoD doing sending out sensitive data to foreign private contractors? In fact, why are they giving anyone data at all?

Fuck Labour.

Re:No, no, no (4, Informative)

gowen (141411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337767)

Fuck Labour.

What? Do you really believe a politician made the decision on whom to outsource data management too?
Are you familiar with the concept of a civil service at all? Do you know who runs the day-to-day operations for the MoD?

Clue: Decisions like "Which subcontractor should we hire" are not made by the Secretary of State for Defence.

Re:No, no, no (4, Insightful)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337853)

But the overuse of external subcontractors is a political decision. Fuck New Labour and fuck the Tories who started it all.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338431)

That first sentence may be the most insightful thing I've read in a week.

Re:No, no, no (1)

dnwq (910646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337889)

Minister of Defence.

"Secretary of State for Defence" doesn't really make sense anyway ;)

Re:No, no, no (1)

dnwq (910646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337895)

... okay, I'm an idiot.

Re:No, no, no (4, Insightful)

hdparm (575302) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337911)

Why are you so apologetic on behalf of the British government? The drive was the responsibility of MoD. This includes the choice of people and/or organisations who do the handling. Likewise, even if the EDS was not the minister's choice, he should have been sacked because he hasn't made the decisions of this magnitude his choice.

Re:No, no, no (0, Flamebait)

gowen (141411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338299)

Because there's a difference between the controlling party in power, and the machinery of state. And the dishonest media portrayal of things like this people have lost the ability to make that distinction, we get the whole "government is intrinsically incompetent" meme, and people come to believe that private-public partnership and running government like a free market is intrinsically better -- because the free market works and government sucks.

Cases like this therefore become so distorted that they are considered, in the public conciousness, as data points that cause people to trust government less with their data. Whereas the actual villain here is the policy of devolving governmental responsibilities to the private sector. But that is never, never, never portrayed as the story -- because the meme is "don't trust governments", and when the facts contravene the meme, the media print the meme.

We should be saying "No to outsourcing of private data -- because private companies cut corners to make profits." Instead, we blame the government because the government is accountable, rather than because the government is at fault. And that's seriously fucked up.

Additionally, all that is sending the British political discourse the way of the American one -- where a candidate's almost complete inexperience of government can be portrayed as a benefit.

As to why, I'm against that; well, that's left as a exercise for the reader.

Re:No, no, no (3, Informative)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338155)

Fuck Labour.

Yeah, because they are the ones who are more likely to out source work to a private company, right? Last time I checked, parties like Labour generally prefer that the government did it themselves, even if it costs more, and it's the opposition who are the ones who like to out source and privatise things.

Re:No, no, no (3, Informative)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338429)

Check again. Labour has changed since the 1980s.

Re:No, no, no (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25339225)

mod parent up, labour are one step away from outsourcing governance to an Indian telephone exchange tbh.

Re:No, no, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338755)

You think that's worrying? Lockheed Martin (yes, that's the US defence contractor) has already won the contract to process the 2011 UK census forms. Hands up anyone who thinks the US government won't get a copy.

Re:No, no, no (5, Informative)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337983)

And who decided that EDS were competent to manage the MoD's data? That would be the MoD i.e. the government. So it is the Government that is intrinsically incompetent: they have a history of either handing over vast amounts of private data to untrustworthy companies (EDS, PA Consulting, Capgemini) or of losing it themselves (HMRC, Home Office, SIS).

In law under the Data Protection Act the MoD, not EDS, are the Data Controller and therefore responsible for losing it.

Re:No, no, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338295)

The people working in the MoD, at least those at the grades making these decisions, do not change when the Government changes. Similarly with the tax office and all the other places that have lost data.

Blaming the Government is not fair - it is civil servants that are to blame.

Re:No, no, no (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338315)

of losing it themselves (HMRC)

Oh, yes those disks that were lost. By whom were they lost? TNT, a privately owned courier company.

Re:No, no, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338125)

Actually, I should chime in on this. I work for the Information Commissioner's Office who deal with these organisations when something like this happens. Any company contracted by an organisation is legally obliged to work to the policies set by the contractee. If EDS are found to have followed those policies and the data breach has occurred then it's the MoD's fault. If EDS didn't follow policy then the MoD haven't been monitoring properly. That's why its always the parent organisation that accepts blame.

EDS has always been a trash outfit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338135)

Nothing new here, EDS has been going from bad to worse for the better part of two decades.

They're a high gloss outfit where image is all (hence beloved by PHBs), with little interest in technical competence nor care of workforce or of customers. As long as the money is rolling in and they get their colossal markup, it's all smart ties and "Yes sir", while the substance can go to the dogs for all they care.

I'm not at all surprised by this latest event, it's par for the course for EDS.

Re:No, no, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338749)

So, if the government contracts *everything* out, they won't be responsible when the contractor loses data, no matter what the level of incompetence responsible in either the company or the oversight of its contracts? Sweeeet. Time to outsource more.

Encrypted or not? HAH! (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337689)

As if that question makes an appreciable difference. Encrypted or not, data loss is data loss. It's bad security practice. Having the data encrypted will do just a tiny bit to save face, but it will hardly stop anyone who wants in.

Re:Encrypted or not? HAH! (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337971)

Having the data encrypted will do just a tiny bit to save face, but it will hardly stop anyone who wants in

Really? Let me know when you've finished breaking TrueCrypt then, or PGP, or BitLocker, or FileVault. I'll be the one waiting over here. For a very, very long time...

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Encrypted or not? HAH! (3, Insightful)

leenks (906881) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338313)

His point was that if someone wants the data, eg they actively stole the hard drive, then they are likely to steal or obtain the mechanism to decrypt the data too.

Re:Encrypted or not? HAH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338117)

It does make a huge difference, because it doesn't matter if you loose encrypted hard drives (assuming you have a strong key). It is bad security practice, if your security guideline says so. But you could make a guideline that says you don't care (assuming these are not your only copies).
To third parties, you just gave them random data.

Re:Encrypted or not? HAH! (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338847)

This is the truth, anyone arguing can talk about semantics but it's just a matter of time before the data can be decrypted. Encryption is great for network security, when someone has limited access to connections, systems and physical access. When someone has access to the hardware it's only a matter of longer wait times, depending on the skill and equipment that the cracker has.

In this sense, it is perfectly logical for individuals who need portable access to the data to be personally and professionally responsible for the data. Physical security is stil the most important and first line of defense.

Combine this with the immediately preceding story (2, Insightful)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337695)

Enough said.

Re:Combine this with the immediately preceding sto (3, Funny)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338041)

Information wants to be free.

I can! (5, Funny)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337715)

I can confirm that the data was or was not encrypted.

Hidden Safety Feature (1)

mini_razor (1306073) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337739)

What they fail to say is that this hard drive will self destruct in 5 seconds. 4 3 2 1.............

Re:Hidden Safety Feature (1)

fluch (126140) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338005)

yeah ... and since they bought the cheapest version of this hiden safty feature there will be only a tiny 'pling' after the counting finished (and not a big smoky explosion) ... and then the drive will continue to work as before...

Re:Hidden Safety Feature (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338871)

...Oh, it was a older Maxtor was it?

this is the reason why... (3, Funny)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337751)

this is the reason why the brits have to spy more....'cuz it's about quantity.....if u have more data coming in.....than that is going out (aka losing)...then u'r golden.

(I don't think it's a coincidence that this was posted after the bit about the brits needing to spy more)

Re:this is the reason why... (1)

Evil_Ether (1200695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338275)

And then it's also harder for anyone who finds the data to find the important parts in all the crap!

News from MOD (5, Informative)

auric_dude (610172) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337803)

personal data on "portable hard di (1)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338369)

So can anybody explain me why they are storing this kind of data on a "portable hard disk drive"? (I mean, it sounds like a laptop 2.5" drive). Is this kind of a default high security policy. I mean, I always thought, that this kind of data should be on some central secure servers and accessed through some secure forms. Am I missing something here?

Interesting, the MoD site was created with "Microsoft Visual Studio 7.0". Well, that sure is totally unrelated anyway.

Re:News from MOD (1)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338425)

Not a mention of encryption anywhere in that statement either. I wish/hope the missing data is somehow safely encrypted.

Are they really being lost? (4, Interesting)

argiedot (1035754) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337815)

The only time I have ever lost a device is when I was mugged and my phones were taken from me and I'm just any other person.

It should be interesting to see what the ratio of laptops lost to all laptops provided is. Maybe this cynicism is because I live in India where corruption is rampant and entire flyovers can be 'lost', but I'm a bit suspicious about this whole thing.

Also, if they're losing laptops with information at such a high rate, at what rate are they losing paper files? Surely it's harder to keep track of the 20 binders with 100 sheets in them than it is to keep track of one hard drive?

I find it hard to believe that these people are really that incompetent. Hanlon's Razor doesn't always apply.

Re:Are they really being lost? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337963)

Business travellers in the US and Europe lose a staggering 15,648 laptops per week, according to a new study by Dell. [itpro.co.uk]

So one shouldn't be surprised that laptops go missing, if the study is anything like accurate.

Re:Are they really being lost? (1)

MPAB (1074440) | more than 5 years ago | (#25339101)

*Study performed in its integrity by browsing eBay.

Re:Are they really being lost? (3, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338055)

It was standard practice for our head of accounting to take our backup tapes home for a few years. This year I saw some of our tapes just lying out in plain view on the passenger seat of his car, so I politely showed him a couple of stories about data loss when tapes were stolen from cars, and have been taking the tapes home myself now..

Re:Are they really being lost? (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338355)

Would the head of accounting from the 60's ever have the idea to make copies of all binders and bring them home, in case the office would burn down? Electronic data really is "smaller" than its paper counterpart, and also more easily moved to other devices, laptops, pcs, etc. BTW I'm sorry for you that you have to take over the questionable practice of taking the tapes home, just because someone else did it in a worse way. Are you sure that you want to carry the liability in case the tapes get stolen from your home?

As a former EDS Subcontractor ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25337887)

the MoD outsources this stuff to EDS, which is under fire for not being able to confirm that the data was or was not encrypted.

It wasn't.

Quite who EDS are sleeping with in the Blair/Brown government I don't know but why they keep getting contracts which they persistently fall to deliver on time and on cost i do not know.

Yet another example... (4, Interesting)

Firefalcon (7323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337905)

...of why we shouldn't be outsourcing critical/sensitive data handling. Yes, Government departments can cock-up enough without external help, but so many of these data loss issues at the moment seem to be the fault of a private company they've outsourced to.

Also, I worry about the outsourcing of anything relating to our Country's security. When you give the job to the lowest bidder, what can you expect but a barely adequate service?

Re:Yet another example... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25339139)

It has to be outsourced. We would be appalled at the size of government if no outsourcing was allowed and government employees had to be hired for all the tasks!

ensure deleting of data (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#25337981)

I wonder if it is technically possible to create a system that is able to ensure that data are deleted after a certain time. (e.g. application forms for companies, ISP data, surveillance recordings, ...) in a form that outsiders can confirm it. So that you can be sure there aren't any copies around either.

It's called DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338067)

.. or haven't you used a Zune? (wise move if you didn't btw).

No, I'm not kidding. I have seen MS trying to sell the MoD DRM, casually omitting answers to interesting questions like who would have the root key and how this would stand up in theatre where almost anything can fail and a lack of information can result in blue on blue (aka fratricide [wikipedia.org] ).

You could also promise to put any further perpetrators and their directors in stocks on the nearest square and made it compulsory for every object thrown at them to either stink or have been rotting for days. Or both. Nothing else seems to help.

Re:ensure deleting of data (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338081)

Technically there are easy ways to do that (at least for individuals since the data protection act shouldn't let you see if data is being held on other people), but you'd have to be pretty gullible to believe that any company was using such a system properly. You also have to take into account backups being made of data, or possible malware on their systems [slashdot.org] that is taking a copy of data before they erase it themselves, and so on.

Re:ensure deleting of data (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338119)

I know!!! I know!!! What is DRM?

I'm wrong of course... DRM is a technical solution to a social problem, which never works.

#1. You could build something into the device holding the data that ensures that it self destructs after a certain time

#2. You could program something into the device that ensured that all copies taken were known.

#3. You could use cryptography to ensure that all devices that connected to it via #2 were certified to comply with whatever specification ensured the deletion of the data

but, #1 is impossible, #2 is impossible, and #3 is impossible. So 'no' is the answer to your question.

Privacy shmivacy (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338045)

Cause [slashdot.org] => Effect [slashdot.org]

hehehe... (1)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338179)

Rather unfortunate to place this directly above the article on the front page saying that the British Government needs more spies... :)

Not surprising at all... (1)

Aramil (1306309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338183)

No matter how much they spend on security most of the times its PEBKAC that does the trick... Like here when a cop forgot his USB stick in an Internet cafe containing PDFs of reports about spying certain people and political groups...Of course someone found it and they spread all over the web... There are numerous examples of situations like this.Security systems are the least responsible for such data losses I guess...

Destroy it all (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338201)

Chuck every hard drive, pen drive, CD, and paper file the government has into a hole, add thermite, and break out the marshmellows.

If someone were to push the spooks and bureaucrats who collected the data into such a fire, I wouldn't object too much either.

Knowledge begets knowledge..... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338251)

And specific knowledge begets its own.

Isn't it obvious?

Not to worry! (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338399)

Those responsible will be reassigned to the domestic surveillance project!

Ah more spying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25338401)

I love the way this is the next story along from:

'UK Government Says More Spying Needed'

so who do you think has the hard drive?

Stupid much? (1)

Atrox666 (957601) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338479)

When I was in the army people who screwed up like this had accidents.
It made the army and the species stronger.

Why is it that (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338639)

All of the recent data catastrophes seem to be happening in Britain?

And in the face of this, the UK government is upping the surveillance, too. "Don't worry, nobody except us is ever going to see your private data. You can trust us."

I think /. needs to change its FAQ (1, Insightful)

MagdJTK (1275470) | more than 5 years ago | (#25338811)

"Slashdot is U.S.-centric. We readily admit this, and really don't see it as a problem. Slashdot is run by Americans, after all, and the vast majority of our readership is in the U.S. We're certainly not opposed to doing more international stories, but only if we're slagging off other countries. Positive stories about anywhere other than the US are frowned upon."

Re:I think /. needs to change its FAQ (0)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25339071)

Would you prefer a story about "Paddington Bear finds a jar of marmalade"?

Leaking is British (tm) (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#25339025)

Those of us that remember the British cars and motor cycles of years gone by know the absence of leaks had to be due to a dry sump, a seized engine is waiting when no leak is discernible.

With the automotive industry all but gone from the UK this national obsession with making things leak has been taken to a new industry.
They know what they're doing.
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