Feeds

Stunned commuter finds more secret papers on train

War against terrorism lost at Waterloo

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Whitehall was left combing its season ticket loan records this weekend as another set of top secret papers did the rounds of the 5.45pm from Waterloo.

Just days after a Cabinet Office worker left a stack of top secret anti-terrorist papers – including an analysis of Al Qaeda - on a train to Surrey, it emerged that a second set of papers detailing Treasury Dept efforts to fight financial fraud had gone walkies on another train around the same time.

As well as detailing weaknesses in how the HMRC’s computer systems can counter fraud, the papers covered government efforts to counter terrorist financing and money-laundering, and ways in which the finance system can be manipulated to finance Iran’s development of weapons of mass destruction.

Apparently the papers were left on a Surrey-bound train last Wednesday, the same day that the Cabinet Office papers were mislaid on another Surrey-bound train. The Cabinet Office papers were immediately passed on to the BBC which handed them back to the government – albeit on camera. The finance papers found their way to the Independent on Sunday, but not apparently until Sunday.

The question of what happened to them in the meantime will cause someone in Whitehall absolute nightmares. Still, if nothing else, the fact that they were passed on by an Independent on Sunday reader will dramatically narrow the hunt for the picker-upper.

The Surrey-bound civil servants’ apparent carelessness with top secret papers is just the latest in a tide of government data breaches. If civil servants aren’t losing CDs with the details of every family in the UK, they’re leaving laptops chock full of details of servicemen in the pub.

Out of their brains on the 5.15

Whitehall has already launched an investigation into the loss of the Al Qaeda documents, and the civil servant responsible has been suspended.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith has been summoned by MPs to explain how the gaffes might affect the fight against terrorism. Her department didn’t actually lose any of last week’s papers. In fact, Smith is unlikely to ever leave secret papers on a train, given that she rarely walks the streets of London, never mind takes public transport.

According to The Times, a Treasury spokesman said of the latest gaffe, “We are extremely concerned about what has happened and will be taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.”

Sadly, with this government’s record the surest way of clamping down on civil servants leaving important documents on trains is to let the operating companies jack up train fares so that even Whitehall fat cats have to get on their bikes. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?