[ISN] The Laptop Shambles

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Apr 16 2001 - 11:52:32 PDT

  • Next message: William Knowles: "Re: [ISN] "Top secret" laptop reported missing"

    Monday 16th Apr 2001
    THE BUNGLER who left his top-secret laptop in a cab was desperately
    hoping for its return last night - to defuse the fury of his Defence
    Ministry bosses.
    The missing Dell Latitude computer is thought to contain vital
    information about new weapons systems.
    The man who was carrying it reported the loss to police but NOT to the
    Ministry of Defence.
    Scotland Yard have circulated details about the pounds 1,700 black
    A Yard spokesman said yesterday: "Special Branch have a record of the
    laptop being left in a black cab. They put a message out regarding its
    "It may be that the laptop will be handed in through the central cab
    "I don't know why that hasn't already happened. If the cabbie doesn't
    hand it over then he would be facing a serious situation when it comes
    to the renewal of his licence."
    The loss of the laptop will be a huge embarrassment to senior military
    Large number of computers have gone missing through carelessness,
    theft or after drinking sessions.
    Senior MoD staff were severely reprimanded last year when The Mirror
    returned a missing laptop which held top-secret files on the pounds
    250billion development of a new British-US fighter plane.
    The latest loss was reported at the front counter of a police station
    in Wandsworth, South London. The official told police he picked up a
    black cab near Waterloo railway station and was driven eight miles to
    He forgot about the laptop and left it in the cab.
    Police immediately alerted Scotland Yard's Special Branch.
    Details of the cab and driver are sketchy.
    All the official could tell police was that the driver was aged 25 to
    He could give no further description and could not give any part of
    the vehicle registration or the driver's personal licence number.
    The computer was black, with a shoulder strap, and had a gold sticker
    of financial consultants Ernst & Young on the front, with two spots of
    BluTak on the back.
    Special Branch have circulated an internal message headlined "Property
    left in taxi cab".
    The description says: "Black laptop left in taxi and has sensitive MoD
    info contained therein.
    "Was in a blk (black) cab from Waterloo to Roehampton, contains
    military info with regard to national security."
    The Ministry of Defence said they did not know of the laptop's loss.
    An MoD spokesman told The Mirror: "I have made extensive inquiries and
    we have absolutely no record of this.
    "We should have been notified as a matter of course and you can only
    speculate as to why we haven't been.
    "Perhaps the person behind its loss is hoping it will be returned to
    him sooner rather than later.
    "Who this person is, or who he works for, is not known to us."
    Ministry of Defence police will be brought into the case tomorrow
    after the Easter break. A police source said: "This man is going to be
    very lucky if he gets his laptop back in time to avoid the fall-out.
    "Anything could have happened to it. Someone else could have got in
    the cab and simply walked off with it."
    An MoD source admitted that there was "deep concern" about computers
    going astray - and said the latest culprit was probably lying low.
    The source said: "He'll be praying for a miracle and a knock on his
    door with a smiling officer holding the laptop. I am sure that would
    be better than winning the lottery."
    Since 1997 military and intelligence staff have lost an astonishing
    204 laptops containing official secrets.
    The problem is so serious that Ministry of Defence and security
    service staff are to be issued with hi-tech briefcases costing pounds
    1,000 each.
    The MoD plans to buy 15,000 of the armoured cases that look like
    ordinary black briefcases but will destroy data if an attempt is made
    to open them.
    The new briefcases are so strong that they can withstand a Semtex
    Special versions will have an electronic system that wipes the
    laptop's hard drive if the case is opened without the right codes. The
    briefcases were recently displayed at a private security exhibition at
    the MoD's Whitehall headquarters and were passed for use by a
    secretive Cabinet Office body called the Security Equipment Assessment
    Some of the briefcases will also be fitted with electronic trackers so
    that they can be traced quickly if they go missing.
    Fewer laptops are now being issued to Government staff because of
    fears that losses will continue to grow.
    Last year one MI5 officer left his laptop on a train in Dorset while
    another had his stolen at a London Tube station.
    An MI6 agent lost her laptop after she got drunk in a tapas bar near
    the agency's London headquarters.
    An Army officer's computer was stolen by an opportunist thief at
    Heathrow Airport.
    Voice of The Mirror: Page 6
    IF YOU know who lost the laptop, or have any information about the
    black cab in which it was left, please call the Mirror newsroom in
    confidence on 0207 293 3831
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