Swedish Military Disgraced by Portable Storage

Sweden's military joins the list of data protection miscreants

January 9, 2008

1 Min Read
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Sweden is the latest country reeling from an embarrassing data breach, after a USB drive containing military secrets surfaced at a public library last week.

A member of the public gave the drive to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, which returned the device to the authorities.

The Swedish military has confirmed that the USB stick contained both unclassified and classified information, including data on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and mines in Afghanistan, where Sweden is part of the multinational peacekeeping force.

Other countries involved in the peacekeeping effort, including the U.S., were also mentioned on the drive, prompting some very red faces in the Swedish military.

"We take this kind of carelessness very seriously," said Colonel Bengt Sandstrm of the country's Military Intelligence and Security Service (MUST) in a statement, warning that the employee who lost the drive could even face a prison term. "Carelessness with regards to classified information is an offense that is punishable by up to six months in prison," he explained.Under Swedish armed forces rules, classified information can be stored on memory sticks, although the drives must be stored in a safe and removed only under strict supervision.

Clearly, this has not happened, resulting in some awkward meetings last week between Colonel Sandström and defense attachés from Sweden's peacekeeping partners in Afghanistan.

At this stage, it is still unclear how a drive containing sensitive information crucial to the country's military ended up on a computer in a Stockholm library, although the Swedish Security Service has been asked to conduct an investigation.

Last year, a survey revealed that almost three quarters of organizations house critical data on removable media despite numerous warnings about the security threats posed by the technology.

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