The police force has lost a memory stick containing information on hundreds of police investigations.
The information was lost two months ago, but only reported missing on 26 February. It was last used by staff working in traffic policing. The force has defended its lack of encryption as it went missing from a secure location. Lothian and Borders Police said it did not need to be encrypted because the information was "being transferred within a secure compound within police headquarters".
Belonging to the Lothian and Borders Police, the police force that covers Edinburgh and south east Scotland the stick contained the details of 750 vehicles. It also contained other data relating to investigations.
The police force has commenced an investigation to find the stick and discover how it was lost.
A spokesperson said the lack of security protection would form part of a forthcoming audit "on how we hold and transport data".
"We are confident that this loss does not in any way compromise any individual involved in any ongoing or previous police investigations."
The police have informed the Information Commissioner of the incident.
The Ministry of Defence similarly defended the loss of an unencrypted memory stick. It contained the details of 50,000 military staff. The MoD stated that the device had been locked away in a highly secure location.
Jason Holloway, northern Europe sales manager at secure USB drive supplier SanDisk, said the incident "shows why data on USB drives must be encrypted at all times - because they get misplaced, or easily removed from those secured areas".
The only way to protect data was to use "mandatory encryption whenever it is moved or copied", he said.
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