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updated 6/1/2012 3:20:05 PM ET 2012-06-01T19:20:05

The former head of Britain's Security Service, MI5, reportedly had her laptop stolen last week while at Heathrow Airport, sparking concern over what could turn out to be a serious security blunder.

According to The Sun, Dame Stella Rimington's laptop was lifted from a luggage trolley last Tuesday (May 22). Because of the confidential information that may have been on the system, including data on Dame Stella's former spy colleagues, the incident was reported to the Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command.

The first woman Director-General of MI5 when she was put in charge in 1992, Dame Stella resigned from her post in 1996. As the security firm  Sophos  points out, Dame Stella is believed to have been the template for Dame Judi Dench's portrayal of "M" in the James Bond films. 

Dame Stella has had a fairly fruitful retirement: She's written half a dozen spy thrillers since 2004, with a seventh on the way. It's not clear whether the laptop thief will get an advance preview of the next novel.

Dame Stella, 77, was "very upset" by the theft, according to the Sun. The incident should serve as a reminder that no matter who you are or what position or power you hold, the personal data you keep on your computer is only as safe as you make it. To keep your private information out of the hands of would-be thieves, make sure to encrypt it, and never leave your laptop somewhere it can be stolen.

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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