IT | Security

Whitehall Loses a Laptop a Day

By: Absolute Team | 1/15/2009

The Liberal Democrats in the UK have publicized the results of their research into computer security across Whitehall. According to their results, 3,000 computers have been lost or stolen across Whitehall in the past 7 years. That's a staggering average of at least one computer lost per day. The data includes an additional 238 laptops and 40 desktops missing or stolen, a very minor improvement in Government laptop security despite continued public breaches and promises of security upgrades, and even laptop bans.

The figures, which were released in Parliamentary answers, include:

  • Since 2002, 1,774 laptop computers and 1,035 desktop computers have been lost or stolen across Government, at a rate of nearly five a week and three a week respectively
  • In 2008 (as of December 29), 238 laptops and 40 desktops went missing
  • Since 2002, 676 mobile phones, 202 hard drives and 195 memory sticks have also been lost or stolen
  • The worst offenders are the Ministry of Defence (which handles very sensitive https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-defenceinformation), which has had 866 laptops stolen and has lost 178, as well as 157 desktops stolen and seven lost

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesman, Paul Holmes said:

"Everyone understands that things go astray but it is truly staggering that over the last seven years a laptop has been lost every working day across government.

It demonstrates a culture of carelessness across Whitehall that ministers have done nothing to curtail."

It is clear that fundamental changes need to happen in the Government in terms of the way data is handled. This includes a 'culture of change', changing attitudes and knowledge of security practices, as well as upgrading technology that protects data devices (like Absolute's Computrace can).

Also in troubling Government security news, the IRS in the US has failed to patch more than half of the cybersecurity problems identified in November. Only 49 of the 115 issues found by the Government Accountability Office have been addressed. Read more here...

Via Daily Mail,ITV ; image: mconnors @morguefile