UK gov't laptop with confidential disc sold on eBay

Both the disc and the laptop are understood to have been encrypted

The UK Home Office has launched an investigation after a buyer acquired a laptop on eBay that contained a disc with confidential information.

The disc was hidden under the computer's keyboard, and discovered by a local PC repair firm, Leapfrog Computers in Bolton, when it was put in for repair. The disc had the words 'Home Office' and 'Confidential' written on it.

Both the disc and the laptop are understood to have been encrypted.

Philip Wicks of consultancy firm Morse said that whatever the circumstances of this latest data debacle, many organization were not taking sufficient care when disposing of IT equipment.

"Organizations need to use specialist techniques and tools to make sure they completely wipe hard drives clean before disposing of them or selling them on," he said. "They should be following best practices such as ISO27001:2005 (formerly BS7799). There are third party organizations that can help, however they must be vetted to ensure they are reputable and not just a broker who is out to make a quick buck, and can't be bothered to go through the process of thoroughly wiping the equipment."

The news is a further embarrassment to the government, following other major data breaches. Last November, HM Revenue & Customs lost two discs containing the details of 25 million child benefit claimants, after a junior employee sent them by unregistered post.

In December, the UK Driving Standards Agency said it lost a disc containing the records of 3 million learner drivers. Soon after that the UK Department of Health said that nine of its regional NHS trusts had lost patient data, including medical records for about 160,000 children in East London.

In January, a laptop containing personal information on about 600,000 new and potential recruits to the Royal Marines, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force was stolen from an officer in the Royal Navy.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Leo King

Computerworld UK
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?