Heathrow Airport Fined Over USB Data Breach

Heathrow Airport Fined Over USB Data Breach

Last October, a Heathrow employee lost a USB stick containing 76 folders and more than 1,000 confidential files, including the names, dates of birth, passport numbers and other personal information related to aviation security staff.

Heathrow Airport, the busiest airport in the United Kingdom, has been fined £120,000 (about $158,173) following a data breach caused by a misplaced USB drive.

Last October, a Heathrow employee lost a USB stick containing 76 folders and more than 1,000 confidential files, including the names, dates of birth, passport numbers and other personal information related to aviation security staff.

The USB stick was found by a member of the public, who looked through its contents at a public library before handing it over to the press, who made a copy and returned it to the airport. The information on the USB drive was neither encrypted nor protected.

On Monday, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said that Heathrow has to pay a fine for allowing the security breach to happen and for failing to ensure that the “personal data held on its network was properly secured.” In addition to the breach, the ICO discovered during its investigation that only two percent of the airport’s 6,500-person staff had been trained in data protection.

"Data protection should have been high on Heathrow's agenda," said ICO Director of Investigations Steve Eckersley. "But our investigation found a catalog of shortcomings in corporate standards, training, and vision that indicated otherwise."

According to a Heathrow Airport spokesperson, the airport has strengthened its processes and policies following the incident, including companywide information security training.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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