Thursday, December 20, 2007

What about other data?

We all know that data security is a big issue right now. The loss of personal details on such a scale as 25 million is never going to be small news. However, I have just noticed in Hansard a response to a question to the House of Commons Commission about their practices and it says
TNT have been used to courier information such as Committee and Delegation papers, artwork and images but only rarely have they been used to transport personal data such as passports and then only in cases of urgency.
OK, fair enough. But here is a question that's just occured to me, and one to which I doubt that an answer will likely be given.

If TNT, and possibly aother couriers are used to transport documents and papers, what level or method is used to transport really really important paper. You know, like "eyes only" stuff where there is only a paper record and not an electronic one? Like I say, I doubt you'll ever get an answer but whilst we're all talking about personal data, what about highly secretive state data?

I don't necessarily mean intelligence here, we could be talking about anything really that could contain significant data of a valuable nature, both political and commerical. How is that transported around, and how secure has that method of transport been?

The Government and Civil Service have a standing policy on the matter of leak inquiries to say words to the effect of "it has been the practice of successive governments not to comment on the subject or outcome of leak inquiries". How many leak inquiries I wonder have found that the leaks have come from poor security proceudres on the transportation of documents?

7 comments:

lettersfromatory said...

Maybe they are just bluffing because they actually send the more important documents by Royal Mail - second class.

The criminals will never expect such clever thinking....

Anonymous said...

Note, Dizzy, that the sraight answer to a straight question came from the House of Commons Commission - i.e. not the Civil Service.

dizzy said...

Yes I do note that, it just happened to be a starting point for a question, that is all.

The Huntsman said...

Some documents I believe are still conveyed by the Corps of Queen's Messengers,which ancient body seems to be rather better than TNT etc. at doing the business.

see

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen's_Messenger
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2242/is_n1574_v270/ai_19420280

ITIL Man said...

How many leak inquiries I wonder have found that the leaks have come from poor security proceudres on the transportation of documents?

I doubt it is the procedures so much as the administration and implementation of the procedures.

Its been some time since I have been a civil servant but in those days there used to be a tome on what security procedures should be applied to the management of documentation from what could or could not be classified as 'Secret' to how confidential and classified documentation should be transported.

The main problem in those days was simply that either people did not know about or they received no training in the security procedures that were required. As a result the security procedures (quite adequate IMO) were left on some manager's shelf gathering dust and the Security Manager's observations were taken with a pinch of salt.

I doubt if things have changed. It is possible that the procedures may not have been updated adequately to reflect working changes.

However, the most likely explanation is that for whatever reason people are not proactively instructed in what the security procedures are (evidence from HMRC suggest this).

Quite simply Senior Management do not put sufficient emphasis on security unless it blows up in their face.

Anonymous said...

I see that blithering idiot Roy Hattersley's trying to pin the blame for data loss on TNT in the grauniad. In my experience (extensive, global) couriers are pretty tight on security and tracking. If they weren't I simply wouldn't use them. Isn't the market wonderful.

Barnacle Bill said...

Roy Hattersley is trying to blame everything on everyone else other than the nice Mr. Bean