The Ministry of Defence has revealed that it has had 280 computers lost or stolen in the past 18 months.
According to a report by the Daily Mail, the MoD has revealed that among the 280 computers were 188 laptops and 99 desktops, while 72 hard discs, 150 back-up tapes and 73 USB memory sticks also went missing.
Andrew Robathan MP, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence, said 21 of the laptops were taken in a single incident in Germany and a further 20 were reported lost in a separate incident but were subsequently recovered. However, he claimed that the information contained on the devices was encrypted or had other security measures in place.
Staff at the department also lost 18 mobile phones, 10 BlackBerrys and 194 CDs or DVDs.
Robathan said: “The MoD takes any loss and theft of communications and information systems and associated media storage devices very seriously. We have robust procedures in place to mitigate against such occurrences and to manage such losses when they do occur.
“The size and complexity of the MoD, more than 250,000 individuals operating all round the world, from permanent bases and in theatre and with frequent movement of kit between locations in support of operations means it is almost inevitable that equipment will go missing.
“Our challenge remains to reduce the number of such incidents and minimise the risk of any incident resulting in the loss of information by ensuring that devices are encrypted or, where this is not possible, that additional security measures are in place.
“Processes, instructions and technological aids are being continually reviewed, revised and implemented to mitigate human errors and further raise the awareness of every individual in the department of their vital role protecting MoD information and assets.”
Nicholas Banks, V-P EMEA and APAC at Imation Mobile Security, said: “The MoD and Southwark Council, two public sector organisations, both reported security breaches last week. This raises questions around our government bodies' overall approach to data security and highlights the need to implement the most simple data security measures, such as providing staff with encrypted portable storage devices and encrypting their data.
“In today's mobilised world, any organisation and especially government bodies need to take preventative measures to ensure that they equip their staff or contractors with the appropriate security measures. It is imperative that their data does not fall into the wrong hands or is accidentally lost.
“Government bodies, such as the MoD and Southwark Council, are holding the confidential data of the public so they should be taking the lead on advocating strict levels of data security.”