The case of an MI6 agent – who apparently left an unencrypted USB stick containing several years worth of drug trafficking intelligence on an airport bus in Columbia – highlights the need to use encryption when dealing with sensitive information, says Credant Technologies, the military grade cryptography specialist.
“Newswire reports suggest that, in leaving her handbag containing the USB stick on a transit bus at Bogota airport, the agent has compromised the work of several of her fellow agents,” said Michael Callahan, Credant’s senior vice president
“Reports also suggest that the loss of the USB stick has forced drug enforcement officials to relocate several of their agents and informants. If the data had been encrypted, however, this reaction would not have been necessary,” he added.
According to Callahan, that the loss of a single USB stick should have compromised the activities of so many agents and their informants illustrates what a happen as a result of a single data loss incident. It also, he explained, highlights what can happen when a single lapse in IT security policy occurs and the potential for the lapse to cause problems at multiple levels.
Callahan went on to say that Colombia may well be problematic when it comes to law enforcement, but implementing an effective IT security policy that requires data held on portable devices to be encrypted is far from being a high technology issue.