A memory stick containing anti-terror training manuals and other sensitive material was reportedly found on a street outside a Manchester police station.
The Greater Manchester Police-branded stick, which also held personnel files, was found by an unnamed businessman outside a cop shop in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, the Daily Star on Sunday reports.
The device was branded with the GMP POTU initials of the Greater Manchester Police Public Order Training Unit and contained 2,000 files including some produced by the National Police Improvement Agency about counter-terrorism tactics. Names and ranks of officers were also found on the reportedly unencrypted device after its finder plugged it into his PC.
Superintendent Bryan Lawton, of GMP's Specialist Operations Branch, told the Press Association: "We are aware of an article relating to the finding of a memory stick belonging to GMP by a member of the public.
"We are currently looking into who this device belongs to, what information is contained on it and the circumstances surrounding its loss."
Data security firm Check Point said the incident emphasises the wider problem of poor portable data storage practices among many corporates.
Terry Greer-King, Check Point’s UK managing director, said: “This incident shows yet again why data on USB drives must always be encrypted. Guidelines to staff, and security policies don’t stop devices being lost or misplaced, and these simple accidents and human errors will turn into real problems if data isn’t protected.
“Companies should ensure all data copied to USB sticks and CDs is automatically encrypted, and the use of all non-authorised devices controlled." ®