To clarify, I meant surface not in the technical term, as in, before they get sandblasted someone just nicks the drive.
No disparagement intended, but you clearly haven't worked in a high-security establishment. I'm not saying it's impossible to nick one, but:
classified document (and in this context, digital storage media is a "document") is registered to a named (and security cleared) individual, is tracked whenever it's moved or transferred to someone else and subject to random checks at any time. It's also required to be locked away (in an appropriately approved secure cabinet) when you leave your office unattended, especially out of working hours but even while you go for a pee.
Get caught leaving a classified document out and unattended at any time
and you've got yourself a severe problem.
This all applies right up to the moment when it's destroyed
It's very much in the "owner's" interests not to lose it because, shortly after the next check, he'll quite likely be in jail, and for the same reason to keep it secure so that nobody else can nick it, because its loss will still be regarded as his responsibility. The Official Secrets Act is not one to be messed with.1
Believe me, being a registered holder of classified documents is a right royal pita, which is why I avoided it as much as I could!
edit- forgot to mention: all employees (and their cars) were liable to searches on entry to and exit from the site, and if you were caught with a classified document on you...
Just for interest's sake, it's the only act (afaik) under which you can be punished twice for the same offence- once in the criminal court and again in the civil court.
Edited by billford (Thu 26-Apr-12 00:04:34)