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Japanese military shamed by USB device

Stolen, found, loaned, lost

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Like ball point pens, cigarette lighters, and the occasional key, flash memory devices have a nearly unstoppable need to be set free upon the world at large.

The result of this seemingly natural law is generally little more than irksome at home, but when combined with the cosmic force of sensitive data misplacement that is a government body, things tend to get a little hairy.

For proof, we travel to Japan for a report from the Mainichi Daily News.

The paper tells us that Japan's military has confessed to losing a USB device that contained troop deployment maps for a joint Japan-US military exercise. Well, actually, the USB drive was stolen, recovered, then accidentally thrown away.

In February of last year, a 33-year-old captain of the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) reportedly stole the memory stick along with 2,000 yen in cash and a 10,000 yen airline coupon.

The GSDF previously announced a one month suspension for the apprehended officer for stealing the cash and coupon, but never mentioned the USB drive to the public.

According to Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, the force withheld the information because they didn't want people on the internet searching for the data.

Shortly after, a lieutenant colonel borrowed the USB device and lent it to a sergeant first class. The sergeant left it on his desk, where it was accidentally tossed.

All three were reprimanded according to the GSDF. The data in question is considered sensitive, but not touchy enough to pursue criminal penalties just for losing it.

This is reminiscent of the case last year when three petty officers of the Maritime Self-Defense FOrce were implicated for sending each other specifications on the Aegis missile systems along with a "large collection of obscene images."

The data reportedly included details on the number of targets the Aegis missile system can track and formulas for its interceptor system. That loss also ticked off the US military, as Aegis is an American system and extremely important to the US Navy. ®

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