What was first reported-on Saturday, October 28th at 11pm-by the Sunday Mirror’s Dan Warburton, Heathrow Airport officials are on high alert after a USB was found containing some of their most classified airport secrets. According to the Sunday Mirror [a “British national daily tabloid newspaper”], the USB holding “2.5GB” of data contained “76 folders with maps, videos and documents – was not encrypted and did not require a password”. Furthermore, such maps and documents included “The exact route the Queen takes when using the airport and security measures used to protect her”, “Routes and safeguards for Cabinet ministers and foreign dignitaries”, as well as “a network of tunnels and escape shafts linked to the Heathrow Express”-to name a few.
What comes just one and a half months “after the Parson Green Bombing in Fulham, London” and “just days after U.S. intelligence agencies warn” of upcoming Al-Qaeda “mass casualty [style] attacks”, what is even more appalling is the manner in which the USB was found. The Sunday Mirror cites that the USB was found in the middle of a small pile of leaves [in Queen’s Park] by an unemployed gentleman. Sources say that there were “at least 174 documents marked ‘confidential’ or ‘restricted.’” Some documents go so far as to detail individuals who would be situationally “exempt from screening” as well as the “radio codes [used in the event of an] aircraft hijacking”.
As a result of this bombshell security breach, U.K. and Heathrow Airport officials have launched a large scale effort to discover how such sensitive documents were downloaded, put onto an unencrypted USB, and taken off site. What especially frightens officials is the potential that some of these documents could have ended up on the “dark web” or have gotten into the wrong hands. In response to this terrifying news, Heathrow officials commented that “Heathrow’s top priority is the safety and security of our passengers and colleagues. [And both] the UK 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.” Discussing the shifting climate of terrorism, MI5’s Director General Andrew Parker stated that “the current terrorism threat is the worst [it’s been] in his 34-year career.” Though it is unknown how such top secret information ended up on the aforementioned unencrypted USB, one thing is for sure: the threat level continues to climb as the feeling of safety decreases.