London, UK – US missile secrets have been found on a used hard drive bought from eBay.
More than 300 hard disks were purchased in the UK, America, Germany, France and Australia and researchers discovered bank account details, medical records, confidential business plans and financial data.
One disk bought on eBay contained details of test launch procedures for the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) ground to air missile defense system, last used to shoot down Scud missiles in Iraq and tested again in March this year in response to North Korea’s satellite launch. The missile system is designed to destroy long-range intercontinental missiles launched by terrorists or ‘rogue states’.
The disk also contained security policies, blueprints and employee data from Lockheed Martin – the company responsible for THAAD.
The research was carried out in the UK by BT’s Security Research Centre, the University of Glamorgan in Wales, Edith Cowan University in Australia and Longwood University in the US.
More than a third of the disks checked contained a ‘surprisingly large range and quantity of information that could have a potentially commercially damaging impact or pose a threat to the identity and privacy of the individuals involved was recovered as a result of the survey.’
Dr Andy Jones, head of information security research at BT, said: “This is the fourth time we have carried out this research and it is clear that a majority of organisations and private individuals still have no idea about the potential volume and type of information that is stored on computer hard disks.
“For a very large proportion of the disks we looked at we found enough information to expose both individuals and companies to a range of potential crimes such as fraud, blackmail and identity theft.
“Businesses also need to be aware that they could also be acting illegally by not disposing of this kind of data properly.”
Another contributor to the report added: “It’s not rocket science. I could probably take somebody who is 14 or 15 years old and in a day have them doing this.”
A spokesman for Lockheed Martin told the BBC that the company was not aware of any compromise of data related to the THAAD program.