VAR finds lost Whitehall data stashed in laptop

VAR finds lost Whitehall data stashed in laptop

Counter-terrorist investigation launched after Leapfrog discovers missing Home Office disc

Manchester-based VAR Leapfrog Computers had an exciting couple of days last week after it uncovered a missing Home Office disc lodged inside a laptop.

Leapfrog managing director Lee Bevan said: “A customer had brought in a laptop for a standard repair and when one of my technical team began to dismantle the laptop, he found lodged underneath the keyboard a disc labelled ‘Home Office: Confidential’. He came to me with it and I called the police.”

Greater Manchester Police confirmed that it was dealing with the case.
A representative from the police force said: “A laptop has been recovered from Leapfrog Computers and enquiries are continuing.”

According to Bevan, a team of three police officers from the Counter Terrorist Unit arrived at Leapfrog’s offices on Tuesday and “bagged and tagged” the laptop and the disc.

“Both myself and two of my staff were interviewed by the police and DNA-swabbed to eliminate us from the investigation,” said Bevan.

“We do not know what is on the disc as the data was encrypted,” added Bevan. “The police were really pleased that it had landed in honest hands. The person that brought in the laptop had no idea what was on there ­ they bought it in good faith on eBay.”

The police said it was too early to determine the content of the recovered disc. However, there have been several high-profile data losses over the past few months, including HM Revenue & Customs losing the personal records of 25 million child benefit recipients.

A statement from the Home Office, said: “Both the laptop
and the disc were encrypted, thus safeguarding any information that might be stored on them. Investigations are now underway. It would be inappropriate to comment further while they are ongoing.”

Michael Small, director of security management strategy at vendor CA, said: “The recent reported data leaks were as a result of poor control over access to and the handling of data. The channel has the opportunity to lead by example in ensuring compliance with regulations and best practice procedures."