USB drive supplier Apricorn has revealed an increasing number of missing laptops from government departments in the last three years, with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) topping the list with 400% increase in the lost lap tops.
The figures were announced from freedom of information (FoI) requests submitted to five government departments into the security of devices held by employees in the public sector.
The data showed that the MoJ lost 354 mobile phones, PCs, laptops and tablets in FY 2018/19 as compared to 229 during 2017/18.
The ministry reported a 400% increase in lost laptops alone in three years: 45 in 2016/17 to 101 in 2017/18 and up to 201 in 2018/2019.
Apricorn also submitted FoI requests to the Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Defence (MoD), NHS Digital and NHS England during September-November this year.
It is reported that of the five government departments contacted, three out of five departments responded.
Meanwhile, the MoE revealed 91 devices were lost or stolen in 2019, while NHS Digital had lost 35 devices till date in this year.
Apricorn EMEA managing director Jon Fielding said: “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.”
All of the three government departments that responded to the FoI admitted that staff used USB devices. The MoJ added that all USB ports on laptops and desktops are restricted and can only be used when individuals have requested that the ports be unlocked.
Each of the responding departments noted that all USB and storage devices are encrypted.
Fielding added: “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.”