Shoestring Theory

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Confidential British government data included in eBay auction

February 28, 2008 at 5:34 pm by thetheorist

T30 Keyboard
Let’s play a game! What’s under the keyboard? (Note, not the actual keyboard in question.)

Governments really shouldn’t use laptops. They just seem to lose, misplace or let the dang thangs get stolen a little too easily. In another privacy embarrassment for the British government, an encrypted CD with “highly confidential” government data was found inside a laptop purchased on eBay, according to the BBC.

The auction winner took it to a local computer shop because the laptop apparently wasn’t acting right. While checking it out, technicians found a CD hidden between the keyboard and motherboard. It was, helpfully, labeled “Home Office – highly confidential.” For those not familiar with the British government, the Home Office is “the government department responsible for leading the national effort to protect the public from terrorism, crime and anti-social behaviour,” according to the official site. But who protects Brits from them?

The BBC quoted a Home Office spokesman:

“Both the laptop and the disk were encrypted, thus safeguarding any information that might be stored on them.

“Investigations are now under way. It would be inappropriate to comment further while they are ongoing.”

I can’t tell from the photo that the BBC used whether its a mockup or an actual picture of the computer (I really wish news organizations would label such things). It looks like a late model Lenovo in the pic.

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The Submit button may not be appearing or working correctly in IE6. I would suggest upgrading to IE7 or Firefox 2 for full functionality (I'm still looking for a solution to this if anyone knows one).

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  • 1 AtTheBat Mar 1, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Hmm, I’m sure that there was no possibility of anyone breaking the strong encryption. . . except for numerous foreign governments, so why worry.