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September 6, 2010

Anti-terror USB stick found on street

Top secret info "dynamite" in wrong hands

By Steve Evans

A USB stick containing top secret anti-terror documents has been found outside a police station, according to reports.

The Daily Star reported that the stick was found lying in the street outside a police station in Stalybridge, near Manchester. It contained over 2,000 pages of information, ranging from anti-terror countermeasures, strategies for acid and petrol bomb attacks and blast control training. It also contained name, rank and division details for police officers.

The USB stick was branded with the Greater Manchester Police logo.

It was found by a local businessman, who then accessed the USB stick on his laptop. Speaking anonymously to the Daily Star he said: "It is scandalous that someone in the police, presumably a high-ranking officer, has been clumsy and negligent enough to lose information as powerful as this. If a terrorist group got hold of this, they could see which officers specialised in what field and where they should target."

"There are even diagrams of crowd control scenes. If this got into the wrong hands, they would be one step ahead of the police all the time. The information in there is dynamite," the finder continued.

The fact that the USB was unencrypted is perhaps the most shocking aspect of this incident. Terry Greer-King, Check Point’s UK managing director, said: "This incident shows yet again why data on USB drives must be encrypted, always. Guidelines to staff and security policies don’t stop devices being lost or misplaced, and these simple accidents and human errors will turn into real problems if data isn’t protected."

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"Companies should ensure all data copied to USB sticks and CDs is automatically encrypted, and the use of all non-authorised devices controlled. This ensures that users can’t turn off or work around the security," Greer-King continued.

"We are aware of an article relating to the finding of a memory stick belonging to GMP by a member of the public. We are currently looking into who this device belongs to, what information is contained on it and the circumstances surrounding its loss," said Superintendent Bryan Lawton, of GMP’s Specialist Operations Branch, according to The Press Association.

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