UK Government Laptop Losses Soar 400%

UK Government Laptop Losses Soar 400%

The UK’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has seen laptop losses soar by 400% over the past three years, according to new Freedom of Information (FOI) data.

Security vendor Apricorn sent FOI requests to five government departments to better understand the extend of their risk exposure through lost or stolen devices.

Of the three that responded, the MoJ appeared to show the largest increase in losses: with the number of laptops going missing rising from just 45 in 2016/17 to 201 in 2018/19.

The combined figure for laptops, PCs, mobile phones and tablets saw a 55% increase in losses from 2017/18 to last year, when they reached 354 in total.

The Department for Education (DfE) reported 91 devices lost or stolen in 2019, whilst NHS Digital has lost 35 to date in 2019.

On the plus side, all responding departments claimed they encrypt any USB or storage devices, with the MoJ saying USB ports on laptops are blocked by default.

“Whilst devices are easily misplaced, it’s concerning to see such vast numbers being lost and stolen, particularly given the fact these are government departments ultimately responsible for volumes of sensitive public data. A lost device can pose a significant risk to the government if it is not properly protected,” said Jon Fielding, managing director, EMEA, Apricorn.

“Modern day mobile working is designed to support the flexibility and efficiency increasingly required in 21st century roles, but this also means that sensitive data is often stored on mobile and laptop devices. If a device that is not secured is lost and ends up in the wrong hands, the repercussions can be hugely detrimental, even more so with GDPR now in full force.”

A separate FOI report from MobileIron earlier this year revealed that 508 mobiles and laptops were lost or stolen from eight government departments between January 2018 and April 2019.

Source: Information Security Magazine