Laptop theft spate worse than being reported

7 Feb 2008

The number of business and government laptops going missing or being stolen is much greater than organisations are admitting, an expert on data privacy and protection told

Pat Moran, a partner in Ernst & Young’s Risk Advisory Services practice, explained that some businesses now have secure encryption software which protects the information on laptops so that if the device is stolen the information is safe.

“For many it’s not the loss of data that is the threat, many fear the reputational damage of a missing laptop.”

In recent weeks, Labour TD, Ruairi Quinn, revealed that over 100 laptops and desktop computers in Irish government departments have been lost or stolen during the past five years.

In the UK, army bosses were red-faced when it emerged that three Ministry of Defence laptops containing information on over 600,000 servicemen and women have gone missing in the past three years.

Moran said he believed the prevalence of laptop theft is greater than many businesses and organisations are letting on.

“Organisations in Ireland are losing laptops or having them stolen on a frequent basis. Not just laptops but information on USB keys, which I would be more worried about than laptops.

“Another problem is the fact that PCs which go out of commission after three years are being disposed of in a very loose manner. Data that may not be fully scrubbed from a hard drive could represent a major threat to organisations and personal security,” Moran said.

By John Kennedy