A computer disk containing the details of around 2000 British Council employees has been lost while in transit with and in the care of courier company TNT last month.
The details included the names, salaries, national insurance number and bank account details and the British Council, which promotes UK Culture worldwide, said that the disk had been encrypted and is protected by an "algorithm".
The disk was an optical one - probably a WORM (Write Once Read Many) - which needs a specific drive to be read and was lost by courier company TNT which the British Council says is "usually secure".
Furthermore, any criminal will need to use a "specialist software" that is apparently no longer produced, according to a British Council spokesperson (ed: our educated guess, they're using Magneto Optical readers by Plasmon).
TNT, you will remember, is the same company used by the HMRC back in November 2007 to carry a pair of CDROMs containing the details of 25 million child benefit claimants. No one has ever seen the CDROMs again.
This is the latest in a number of quite embarrassing data mishandling by various branches of the government.
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For some reason, organisations like the British Council (and so many others) still don't use secure networks to transfer their data, preferring the relative comfort of using courier firms like TNT. Although the British Council, through a spokesperson, says that it is reviewing the process it uses for transferring data.
(In the news)