MoD Loses On Average 15 Laptops Per Month

The theft of a Ministry of Defence laptop at the Britannia Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool city centre last Thursday is the latest in a string of embarrassing lapses that saw 659 MoD laptops disappear over the past four years, nearly twice the amount it previously reported.

Although the ministry says that its security policies were "fit for purpose", the fact that it loses on average one laptop every two days, many of them with sensitive data and many of them stolen rather than lost.

Only 32 of the lot have been recovered; in addition, the MoD also had 90 desktop computers and PDAs unaccounted for during the same period.

Furthermore, the MoD revealed that 121 of its USB memory sticks went AWOL since 2004, a surprisingly low figure given the fact that they are so tiny and very often easily misplaced by accident. Three of those contained information considered as secret with "restricted" data found on 19 others.

20,000 laptops are currently being used by the MoD, with the majority of them being only recently encrypted.

Only last month, Sir Edmund Burton published a report that pointed out to a number of shortcomings in the way the MoD deals with its personnel's data and criticised the ministry for lacking basic security discipline.