No classified data on misplaced USB stick: Defence

USB stick found on Qantas flight contained only public data, Defence claims

Australia’s data loss prevention and encryption vendors will no doubt be salivating at the Defence’s confirmation that a USB stick allegedly found by a radio announcer on a Qantas flight does indeed contain Defence information.

See more security news

The confirmation follows the announcement by a 2GB Radio Sydney announcer on 10 March 2011 that he was in possession of the USB stick, which was claimed to contain Defence classified information.

In a statement, Defence said it collected the USB stick on the same day, and assessed whether it did contain classified information. “Initial analysis indicates that the device does contain Defence information, none of which is highly classified and some which is unclassified and available over the internet,” the statement reads.

Defence did not comment on whether the data contained on the stick was encrypted or able to be copied.

According to Defence, the memory stick’s owner had been identified as a former Defence member and current contractor.

“Defence takes any compromise of its information seriously, and the circumstances surrounding the loss of the thumb drive are being investigated,” the statement reads.

Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS) advisor, James Turner, said while the claims to possessing unclassified information on the USB stick could be exaggerated, the situation did show the need for organisations to utilise encryption, rather than data loss prevention.

“I'm presuming that the contractor was entitled to access the information they had on the USB key so DLP would have wished him a cheery safe trip and done nothing to stop the data being ported on to a USB key,” he said.

“This is the same scenario that a number of our clients have been looking at and a common conclusion, and certainly one that I recommend, is enforcing USB encryption.

“Security should support the staff in what they are authorised to do and if that includes copying data onto a USB key and getting on a Qantas plane then so be it.”

The incident was a good reminder for other organisations to revisit security policies, examine how they would manage the loss of a USB stick and understand what sorts of data was presently on staff USB sticks, Turner said.

“For most organisations, I bet they wouldn't know [what is on staff USB sticks],” he said. “Partially because they wouldn't have sufficient logging to know where the data had moved and partially because the staff would be too embarrassed to report the loss internally."

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @TLohman

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags defencesecuitydata loss preventionencryptionUSB sticksend point security

More about DLPIBRSIntelligent Business Research ServicesLPQantas

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Tim Lohman

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place