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Home office laptop flogged on Ebay for cheap

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.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.