In another embarrassing episode (opens in new tab) of (Data) Leaking Britannia, the Home Office has been informed that a laptop containing an encrypted disc and which apparently belonged to the HO has been sold on Ebay.
The mishap was uncovered after the laptop, which might have been nicked by an ex-employee, was taken into Bolton-based Leapfrog Computers, a computer repair shop, by the customer who purchased it off Ebay.
Puzzled staff found out that the laptop contained a CDROM bearing the words 'home office' and 'confidential'.
According to staff description who mentioned opening the notebook's keyboard, it seems that the device is a Panasonic Toughbook, which has a optical drive reader hidden under its keyboard.
A Home Office spokeswoman emphasised that the laptop and the disc were encrypted, which means that the data would not be easily accessible.
Thousands of laptops are on sale on Ebay at any time as well as other storage data like hard disk drives, desktop computers or decommissioned servers and there is a risk that some of them contain confidential data.
Ebay's Distance Selling process means that buyers and sellers do not need to meet and sellers are not forced to reveal where they sourced the product offered on sale.