Feeds

Gov claims 'password protection' OK for sensitive docs

Blears docs should never have been on stolen PC

High performance access to file storage

The government sent the security industry into gales of laughter today when it insisted that sensitive documents on Hazel Blears’ missing PC are quite safe, as the machine is “password protected”.

The gov’s soothing words came amid speculation on what formal action, if any, communities and local government secretary Blears will face, as her department admitted the missing machine included files which should never have been there in the first place.

Meanwhile, it emerged that contrary to initial reports, the missing PC wasn’t a laptop but a desktop. So not only was sensitive information wrongly downloaded, it was downloaded to a machine that by definition would have spent its days in Salford, rather than being kept close to the minister’s side.

And even though the machine was in an alarmed room, and according to government spokespeople security staff were there in minutes, the light fingered constituent was still able to slip out of the building with an armful of PC without being collared.

According to The Evening Standard, government ministers can download sensitive materials to special, secured laptops. However, the paper reported, the machine in question was not one of these.

As of yesterday afternoon anyway, Number Ten was fighting shy of heaping blame on Blears, with the prime minister’s spokesman refusing to comment on what was on the PC and whether any of the files on it should never have made their way out of Whitehall.

Number Ten was still examining the matter, he said, and couldn’t comment as to whether there had been any breach of procedures. The spokesman also refused to speculate on what action might be taken against Hazel Blears.

However, by yesterday evening, Blears’ own civil servants had admitted that there was more on the PC than there should have been.

Communities and Local Government Permanent Secretary Peter Housden said, in a statement: "It is clear that papers have been sent to Hazel Blears in a way that is not fully consistent with the departmental guidance."

However, Housden insisted “no damage” had been done and added: "The computer was password-protected.”

It is that last statement which will have security professionals in tears since cracking a password, as opposed to cracking an encrypted PC, is considered a trivial task.

Gordon Brown’s spokesman said yesterday that the PM had told the cabinet yesterday morning to remind staff of “the importance of enforcing procedures on the treatment of sensitive information”. We’re hoping that is a diplomatic way of saying Brown tore strips off the captains of a fleet of increasingly leaky ships.

In the meantime, the government might do worse than despatch a crack MI5 team down to Waterloo Station to scour the trains post rush hour, as this seems to be the main clearing house for sensitive government information these days. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.