Ex-MI5 boss loses laptop at Heathrow airport

Stella RimingtonStella Rimington, the former Director-General of MI5 (Britain’s Security Service), has had her laptop stolen according to media reports.

Dame Stella Rimington made the headlines in 1992 when she was publicly named as the first female chief of MI5, and is believed to have inspired Judi Dench’s casting as spy chief “M” in the James Bond films. Dame Stella has since carved herself a career as a spy novelist.

The former boss of MI5 was said by The Sun newspaper to be “very upset” by the theft which occurred as she left Heathrow airport last Tuesday.

The Metropolitan Police’s SO15 Counter-Terrorism division is reported to have been informed because of possible security concerns.

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Although Dame Stella retired from MI5 in 1996, the concern will be that she may still have the contact details of former colleagues, and no doubt the authorities will want to quickly determine if strong passwords and encryption were in place on the laptop.

And that’s an important consideration that all of us should bear in mind.

Chances are, of course, that whoever stole Dame Stella’s laptop was not targeting her specifically and is more interested in selling the computer down the pub than attempting to uncover any secrets on her hard drive.

Three years ago, newspapers claimed that the incoming head of Britain’s MI6 secret intelligence service, Sir John Sawers, could have had his security put at risk after his wife made publicly accessible posts on Facebook.

Image source: www.stellarimington.com


Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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