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USB device containing confidential Heathrow Airport data found miles away on a London residential street

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Confidential and secretive information for Heathrow Airport was reportedly found on a USB device some 13 miles from the site in a random London neighbourhood, prompting questions over the quality of the U.K.’s airport security.

The data on the device was also found to have had no encryption and wasn’t even password-protected; arguably the most rudimentary security measure that should be implemented for any type of information worth protecting.

How confidential data concerning the U.K.’s largest airport – and potentially a huge target for terrorist attacks – could be removed in this manner is incredibly worrisome.

A wealth of valuable security data

There were reportedly 76 files of confidential information contained on the USB device. Some of the 174 documents were marked as confidential and restricted but were not encrypted or password-protected.

The 2.5 GB worth of data included:

  • The route the Queen takes when using the airport, including details of the Royal Suite
  • Routes for foreign dignitaries like Heads of States visiting the country
  • Maps of CCTV camera positions
  • Locations of secret tunnels and escape shafts underneath the airport
  • Timetables of security patrols
  • ID requirements needed for restricted areas

An absolute goldmine for anyone looking to carry out an attack on our shores!

Device handed to tabloids

The USB device in question was found by a member of the public and was unfortunately given to the Sunday Mirror as opposed to the police. The man who found it was reportedly unemployed and on his way to the library to use a public computer to search for jobs when he came across the device on Ilbert Street, Queen’s Park, West London.

In the wrong hands, this device could arm someone with enough information to target the U.K.’s largest airport that sees 75 million people pass through its gates every year. Terrorist attacks could be carried out by utilising the secret routes, cracking security perimeters and avoiding the CCTV cameras.

Given the data about the Queen and how foreign officials are handled, the targets could have been high value as well.

Origin of the USB device remains a mystery

No one seems to know why the USB was found and how it ended up some 13 miles away from the airport; who it belongs to; how it got there; why it exists (a USB with a wealth of security data?!); and why it was not protected.

Heathrow Airport has launched an internal investigation. While they assure the public that the airport’s security is ‘secure’, they cannot guarantee that the information has not already made its way into the hands of others.

A Heathrow spokesperson declared:

“Heathrow’s top priority is the safety and security of our passengers and colleagues. The UK and Heathrow have some of the most robust security measures in the world and we remain vigilant to evolving threats by updating our procedures on a daily basis.”

Ironically, one of the documents detailed recent terror attacks and noted the threats the airport could face. I guess the author didn’t take into account that a USB device containing confidential security information being left in a street could be picked by anyone who could pose a threat…

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First published by Editor on November 14, 2017
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