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Theft at RAF Facility Endangers Personal Data of 50,000

Data on British air force hard drives wasn't encrypted; old facility 'wasn't that secure,' reports say

The personal data of all current and former members of the U.K.'s Royal Air Force -- and their dependents' data as well -- may be at risk today following the theft of three interconnected external hard drives from a facility in Gloucestershire, U.K.

According to reports about the RAF data theft, the three A5 book-sized hard disk drives holding the unencrypted data were stored in a locked cupboard in the Services Personnel and Veterans Administration office in Innwood, Gloucestershire. The World War II-era facility was described as not "that" secure.

Two of the drives contained personnel details, such as Ministry of Defense email addresses, appraisal results, and bank details, the reports say. The third did not contain any personal details. Access to the room in question is via two successive manned security doors. Visitors need a pass and an escort to pass between the two doors, but the reports say there isn't much perimeter security at the site.

Ministry of Defense officials are quoted as saying that the drives were not encrypted because they were kept in a secure location.

"There is no indication that the theft was motivated by a desire to obtain the data, nor that the data has been exploited maliciously in any way," the Ministry of Defense said in a statement. "But personal information on anyone serving or who has served in recent years in the RAF, regular or reservist, may have been compromised."

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading