back to article UK-French drone aircraft blueprints nicked at Paris station

Old-school crooks managed to steal documents related to secret plans to build a joint French-British drone aircraft after snatching a briefcase at a Paris railway station. The briefcase was stolen from an executive at French defence contractor Dassault Aviation while he and a colleague were in the process of purchasing a …


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  1. FartingHippo


    Old-school crooks indeed. Fedoras and trenchcoats, I'd imagine.

    1. Kubla Cant

      Re: Blueprints?

      Fedoras and trenchcoats? Those are old-style cops.

      Old-style crooks wear striped jerseys and masks. They carry sacks labelled "Swag".

  2. mark 63 Silver badge

    time and time again

    the old story - confidentail info - trains - lost

    In this case top secret info - unencrypted. Just because its on paper dont make it less of a security risk.

    1. Mike Flex

      Re: time and time again

      > In this case top secret info - unencrypted.

      Where does the article claim this was unencrypted top secret info? The article merely mentions "secret plans", which doesn't necessarily even mean SECRET plans.

      Dassault claimed the lost documents were not particularly sensitive though, of course, there might be a touch of the Rice-Davies' about that.

    2. ElNumbre

      Re: time and time again

      I had this discussion with a colleague around BYOD. I use a tablet that is encrypted and password protected and the software I use further password protects its contents. I can also wipe it remotely should it ever go walkabout. This is not acceptable storage for corporate information.

      However, I am allowed to bring my own notepad and pen and am not required to write in code nor shred my information before taking it off the premesis. The only security my written word is that my handwriting is crap.

      Provided you do it properly, electronic data storage and transfer can have its benefits.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cue the moral outrage

    ...just the same as if this were a lost thumb drive.


    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: Cue the moral outrage

      As has already been said above, yes, paper documents are unencrypted and therefore insecure. The difference between this breach and a loss of an unencrypted USB stick is one of scale.

      An cheap USB drive can hold 2Gb of data which can be a hell of a lot of database records or confidential documents. A quick google brings up a number which I'll just assume is correct because it looks nice. 500Mb gets you 10,000 pages of document. 2Gb obviously allows you to lose 40,000 pages of confidential data. 1x briefcase of paper allows you to lose maybe a few hundred.

      Is it bad? Yes. Is it as bad as it could have been with a USB drive? No.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        That'd be MB (Byte, not bit), and is ballpark for plain text. Think 80x66 for letter, A4 should be a line or two less, default monospace font, and so on, and so forth. That's also without margins; 65 characters is more readable, add a bit of room at top and bottom, and you end up with 4kB-or-so per plain-text page. Text also tends to compress really well. "Modern document formats", OTOH, tend to explode the size to some large multiple of that, think orders of magnitude larger. And then there's bitmap pictures. Blueprints I'd expect to be in some vector format, and that shouldn't be too big or at least compress reasonably well.

        Depending on the briefcase, you could possibly fit two reams of 80g/m^2 paper in, or about a thousand pages. Print both sides, print half size so two pages fit on a side, use thinner paper (60g/m^2 still goes through normal printers), press a bit harder, and you get what, maybe 5000-odd pages of document in a sturdy briefcase.

        Flash sticks are still worse, of course, but then again, the big problem with information is that monetising it is possibly the hardest part. Mere volume by itself, though, tells you next to nothing.

        You can have databases and databases full of data (hello government and big corporates), and it might turn out to be absolutely worthless, except in the cases where the ICO fines you for losing it, when it turns out it's nothing but a liability, perhaps to the people in the database if not directly to you. You can have a couple sentences and people end up willing to pay millions for it. It all depends.

        1. Jared Hunt

          Scale doesn't always matter

          The Colonel's secret recipe is a few lines of hand written text of a scrap of paper. Imagine how much it would be worth to the right buyer?

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  5. david 63

    Don't panic

    I've put them here...

    and if that's not the plans you are looking for, it's something to do with the unclaimed documents on the group printer after a bevvy on a friday afternoon.

  6. Gary F

    What an idiot

    The man should resign or have any defence contracts taken away because he has little concept of security. Whether there were important secrets in his case or just a sandwich, the point is he can't be trusted to keep things safe. In his line of work you'd think that would be one of the key requirements.

    Never, ever put a bag or case down in a public place and turn your back on it, even for a second. Assume everyone wants to steal your belongings.

    1. Helena Handcart

      Re: What an idiot

      While you were writing that, I nicked your wallet.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Mondo the Magnificent

    Old school security needed...

    Next time handcuff the briefcase to your wrist...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stolen plans

    Now that the plans have been stolen, it might actually get built.

    Probably as the Omniscient Dragon of Celestial Thunder (Mk 1)

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Stolen plans

      Emperor Basam Damdu finally gets the blueprints of the Swordfish!

      Mine's the trenchcoat with old comics stuffed in the pockets.

  10. HP Cynic

    I do like Dassault's "Galic Shrug" response to this though :)

    1. Ed 11

      You mean Garlic Shrug, surely?

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        I didn't know garlic grew on shubs

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hustle, Leverage, any other program me featuring conartists?

    Isn't this just a standard distract-and-grab technique shown used by any conartist? This really does play out of any TV programme.

    This article does however lack some detail; what was actually taken? 'Blueprints' for a next generation drone are unlikely to fit in a briefcase; or for that matter a suitcase! Was it actually a thumb drive that was stolen? Was it possibly encrypted? Is it likely that anything has really been lost or exposed at all?

    I realise we may never know the answer to these questions and still think the guy is a fool for making such a rooky mistake but maybe, just maybe, this is really a non-story.

    Anonymouse because you never know

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "rooky mistake"

      This mistake certainly has lots of black birds of the crow family associated with it.

  12. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    In these days of rapidly shifting technology I think it's pretty smart of the 'grass roots' thieves to maintain a wide range of skills.

  13. Lars Silver badge


    The briefcase was just dumped somewhere as it contained nothing of interest for a common thief.

  14. LB45

    Not entirely old school

    What? No handcuffs between user and briefcase ala spy novels of old.

    Heavens, what's the world of spys coming to these days?

  15. DF118

    What I take from this story is:

    UK and France are working together on defence. The more the merrier I say. Why not get the whole UN involved?

  16. Richard 12 Silver badge

    This is why briefcases are crap - trivial to nick.

    Rucksacks are so much better because you don't have to put them down to do common stuff like buying a ticket.

    Papooses are best, as they are always in front of you so can't be surreptitiously picked like a rucksack can.

    Solved - all serious businessmen carrying important stuff should be using a papoose. It won't look daft if everyone does it, right?

  17. tim 4

    it's been a long known fact

    since early in the cold war days......

    if you want the soviets [ insert appropriate current foe instead] to know.... tell the french and wait two weeks.

  18. detritus

    Both this and the BBC article linked-to are light on details of the plans - Dassault are visibly mentioned - but no word on the British partner(s). Presumably not BAe, so then who?

  19. Concrete Cowboy

    Many Bothans died to bring us this information.

    Vader will be looking for his Death Star plans.

  20. Black Betty

    Is there anything to indicate that the material in the brief case....

    ...was specifically sought?

    Or was it just an opportunistic chav looking for something to turn into "ready" to turn into packaged happiness?

  21. TimNevins
    Black Helicopters

    It's been done before

    A feeling of Deja Vu?

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