Police have apologised after giving infected memory sticks as prizes in a government-run cyber-security quiz.

Taiwan’s national police agency said 54 of the flash drives it gave out at an event highlighting a government’s cybercrime crackdown contained malware.

The virus, which can steal personal data and has been linked to fraud, was added inadvertently, it said.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) apologised for the error and blamed the mishap on a third-party contractor.

It said 20 of the drives had been recovered.

Around 250 flash drives were given out at the expo, which was hosted by Taiwan’s Presidential Office from 11-15 December and aimed to highlight the government’s determination to crack down on cybercrime.

Cyber-fraud ring

All the drives were manufactured in China but the CIB ruled out state-sponsored espionage, saying instead that the bug had originated from a Taiwan-based supplier.