Lack of encryption in government departments riles Quinn

2 Oct 2008

Ruairi Quinn TD, Labour Party Spokesperson for Education and Science has criticised Government departments’ secure IT policy, following the news that only three out of 15 of them have fully encrypted their IT systems.

“I find it incredible to discover that 19 laptops, three desktops, at least nine BlackBerry mobile phones and four portable storage devices have been lost across the departments in 2008,” he said.

“On average, a device that could contain sensitive information about people is lost nearly every week.”

The figures are based on a series of Dáil questions Quinn tabled last week, as a follow-up to a similar question in January of this year. On that occasion, he found that almost 100 laptops had been lost over the previous five years.

“These latest figures show that government departments must get their acts together to protect confidential data,” he said.

“If these figures are continued for the rest of the year, government departments will have lost more than 45 devices by the end of 2008. That’s a doubling of the annual average from the previous five years.”

Nine Government departments are in the process of encrypting their devices and, as Quinn says, “shockingly”, two have not done so at all – Communications and Education and Science.

“It beggars belief that the Department of Communications, tasked with developing our country’s IT infrastructure, has absolutely no policy on securing IT devices.”

Quinn has asked Education Minister Batt O’Keefe TD to fully roll out his department’s forthcoming pilot scheme to protect portable computer devices.

By Sorcha Corcoran