Cyberattacks and terrorism threats are no joke, especially when it comes to air travel. Since 9/11, we’ve seen a huge increase in airport security and for good reason. Nobody wants to see another successful terror attack like the one carried out on that horrific day.
That’s why the news coming out of London is so shocking. You’re not going to believe how the latest national security risk came about.
What led to this frightening national security risk?
We’re talking about a major security breach at London’s Heathrow Airport. A USB memory stick full of confidential information was found lying in the street by a man walking by.
The USB stick contained a treasure trove of information, including 76 folders of maps, videos and documents. None of the 2.5GB of information was encrypted and there was no password required to see any of it.
The man who discovered the memory stick turned it into the “Sunday Mirror” when he realized the sensitive nature of what it contained. After checking what was on the drive, the “Mirror” turned it over to Heathrow security officials who are now conducting a “very, very urgent” investigation.
A security expert told the Mirror, “In the wrong hands this would represent a profound threat in terms of terrorism or espionage. Aviation security is under the microscope because of the desire by terrorists to bring planes down in a spectacular fashion. Security services would not want this leaked or sold to hostile parties.”
Some of the information found on the memory stick directly affects Queen Elizabeth. It exposed the exact route taken by the Queen when she travels from the airport as well as the security measures used to protect her. Here is a list of other sensitive data found on the drive:
- Files describing every form of ID needed, including ID used by undercover police, to access areas that are restricted at the airport
- A timetable of security patrols used to guard against suicide bombers and terror attacks
- Maps that pinpoint CCTV cameras and a network of tunnels and escape shafts linked to Heathrow Express
- Routes and safeguards for cabinet ministers and foreign dignitaries
As you can see from the list, this is information that should not fall into the wrong hands, which is one thing officials are worried about. Officials do not know if this is a case of massive incompetence that led to a data breach, or if someone leaked the sensitive data intentionally.
Police are worried that if this was intentional, someone could have put the data onto the Dark Web for anyone to buy. This information would allow a bad actor to pick holes in airport security and cause all kinds of havoc.
A Heathrow spokesperson responded with this statement, “The U.K. and Heathrow have some of the most robust aviation security measures in the world and we remain vigilant to evolving threats by updating our procedures on a daily basis. We have reviewed all of our security plans and are confident that Heathrow remains secure.”
Hopefully, the spokesperson is correct and no terror events come from this breach. We’ll have to wait to and see.
Protecting your sensitive data is difficult, here are security tips you can learn from the U.S. government that will help
The U.S. government is targeted by thousands of hacking attempts every day. It’s for just this reason that many individual branches of the government work with specialty cybersecurity companies to protect their networks.
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