LEWIS PR uncovers huge loss of laptops by MoD staff
Sensitive data goes missing in £600,000 blow to taxpayersThursday, July 22nd, 2010
Three hundred and forty laptops have been lost by or stolen from Ministry of Defence staff in the past two years at a cost of £620,000 to the taxpayer, according to Freedom of Information figures released to LEWIS PR.
A further 593 CDs, DVDs and floppy disks, 215 USB memory sticks, 96 hard-disk drives and 13 mobile phones also went missing, many containing sensitive data which was not encrypted and could have been accessed by criminals.
A total of 120 laptops, at a cost of £1,800 each, were stolen and 220 lost and only 25 were recovered. Less than half – 157 – had data which had been encrypted.
Similarly, only 164 of the 593 CDs, DVDs and floppy disks, were recovered. Only 40 were encrypted and only 52 of the 215 missing memory sticks were protected.
The findings show that a total of 1,257 hi-tech items disappeared from the Ministry of Defence but a staggering 983 were not encrypted. Only nine staff were disciplined over the losses.
Freedom of Information statistics obtained by LEWIS PR from a further 10 governmental departments also revealed other major losses of hardware by civil servants between June 2008 and June 2010.
Among the big losers were:
• The Department for Transport: 38 laptops, 39 PDAs, 21 mobile phones and 2 memory sticks reported lost or stolen at a cost of £49,318. Two members of staff were disciplined.
• The Department for Work and Pensions: 71 laptops, 48 mobile phones, 27 BlackBerrys reported lost or stolen. No valuation was available but working on an average cost of £600 per laptop and £50 per mobile phone, the estimated loss would be £46,350, Five members of staff were disciplined.
• The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: 11 laptops and 13 BlackBerrys reported lost or stolen at an approximate cost of £17,000.
• The Department for Education: 11 laptops, 34 BlackBerrys, one PDA and 4 memory sticks reported lost or stolen at a cost of £12,701.92. One member of staff was disciplined.
• The Department for Communities and Local Government: 10 laptops, 10 BlackBerrys, two mobile phones were lost or stolen at a cost of £12,260.
• The Department for International Development: 18 laptops and four mobile phones were lost or stolen at a cost of £5,724.
• Department of Energy and Climate Change: Four laptops and seven BlackBerrys vanished at a cost of £5,454. No member of staff was disciplined and no equipment recovered.
• The Cabinet Office: Seven laptops, five mobiles and one BlackBerry at a cost of £4,856. No member of staff was disciplined and no equipment recovered.
• The Foreign Office: Six laptops reported lost or stolen. No valuation was given but working on an average cost of £600 per laptop the estimated loss would be £3,600. No member of staff was disciplined and no equipment was recovered.
In total, the 11 departments questioned reported the loss of 518 laptops, 131 BlackBerrys /iPhones, 104 mobile devices and 932 memory devices. Added together this represented an estimated loss to the taxpayer of £777,854.29.
Eb Adeyeri, Digital PR Director, LEWIS PR commented: “While it’s worrying that there is still so much data going missing through lost devices, what’s even more alarming is that so few of the devices were encrypted. We live in an age where so much of our lives exist online and across a multitude of social networks and the implications of information falling into the wrong hands today is now more dangerous than even a couple of years ago. Surely it’s incumbent on Government departments to take the issue of computer security far more seriously and at the very least ensure all devices are adequately encrypted.”