A British agent reportedly lost a memory stick on a bus in South America that contained top-secret information about covert operations against drug traffickers.
The Times reported that the drugs liaison officer lost a computer memory stick that is said to contain a list of undercover agents' names and details of more than five years of intelligence work.
It is believed to have happened when the MI6-trained agent left her handbag on a transit coach at El Dorado airport in Bogota, Colombia in 2006. The loss forced intelligence chiefs to wind up operations and relocate dozens of agents and informants amid fears the device could fall into the hands of drugs barons.
The loss was confirmed by the Serious Organised Crime Agency on the 25th April. Nick Lowe, head of Northern Europe for Check Point, commented: “This simple act of forgetfulness with unencrypted data caused huge problems and costs for the intelligence community.
“The agency involved says that its data handling procedures have been updated and improved since the loss in 2006. I hope that's the case, but our February 2009 industry survey showed less than 50 per cent of UK public and private sector organisations use any form of data encryption. So we still have a long way to go before we can be sure that data leaks of this kind are eradicated.”