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Security flap as Scottish council loses USB key

Red faces after local paper returns lost memory stick

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Pay details of scores of workers of Perth and Kinross Council has been found on a memory stick left in the street. The security lapse could have exposed workers to ID theft, the Perth Advertiser reports.

The breach emerged after a USB key containing 59 documents, many from the council's Environmental Services Department, were recovered near a bike shelter close to the council building at Pullar House. The retired man who found the memory device handed it over to the local paper.

Data on the key included 25 spreadsheets some of which included details of council workers' pay, National Insurance contributions, and overtime hours. It also contained health and safety reports, performance reviews, and budget information.

Information on workers ranging from HGV drivers to cemetery workers was exposed by the breach.

Inquiries by the Perth Advertiser established that the loss of the device had gone unnoticed, or at least unreported to police. A spokesman for the council thanked the paper for the recovery of the lost memory device, which he described as "an unfortunate accident".

The man who reported the loss described it as careless. "I would have thought it would be unwise for council employees to be going around with a pen drive in such a way that it could be so easily lost. I thought more care would be taken over such information.

"If I was a council worker, I would be furious," he added.

A spokesman at the council explained that council workers sometimes take work home with them on USB sticks. "Officers in this situation are all aware of the need for care and it would seem that this was an unfortunate accident.

"The device contained some historical information but much of the documentation was on the device in order to assist the owner in preparing some draft material for the new Business Management Improvement Plan," he added.

The council criticised the man who found the key for not returning it directly to the council. "The failure by the finder of the USB device to return it to the council constitutes theft and the council would like to thank the PA for its return," he said. ®

Bootnote

Thanks to reader Kevin Kenny for the tip-off.

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