[ISN] MoD 'loses 600 laptops'

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Jan 14 2002 - 01:16:03 PST

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    Sunday, 13 January, 2002
    Nearly 600 laptop computers have been stolen or lost from the UK's
    Ministry of Defence (MoD), it has emerged.
    Figures obtained by Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow revealed that a
    total of 1,354 government-owned computers had gone missing over the
    past five years.
    From the MoD, 594 laptops have gone missing; a further 419 have
    disappeared from the Department for Work and Pensions; and 115 from
    the Department for International Development.
    Some computers were detailed as stolen while others had simply been
    "lost", Mr Burstow said.
    Mr Burstow's figures also revealed that hackers had illegally accessed
    the MoD's computer system 27 times since 1999, the Mail on Sunday
    A spokesman for the MoD said: "We are not prepared to discuss the
    security arrangements of theft of laptops."
    He added: "Once a laptop is stolen or goes missing, the civilian
    police and the appropriate MoD authorities are informed immediately."
    He also pointed out that "not all laptops contain classified
    Mr Burstow, MP for Sutton and Cheam, collated the figures after
    tabling a series of written Parliamentary questions. He said the
    figures could be even greater, because they had been volunteered by
    "It shows that some departments seem to be particularly vulnerable to
    this sort of theft taking place," Mr Burstow said.
    He said the figures revealed a number of the perpetrators were
    departmental staff.
    "These departments have potentially sensitive intelligence
    information, and I think more could be done to prevent this happening.
    "We want departments to look at the procedures they have to make sure
    that staff are more careful with the equipment they are borrowing and
    A total of 79 laptops were taken from the Department of Trade and
    Industry, 77 from the Lord Chancellor's Department, 43 from the
    Cabinet Office, 14 from the Treasury and three from the Northern
    Ireland Office.
    As well as the MoD reporting 27 hacking events, 19 such events were
    also reported at the Lord Chancellor's Department, five at the Foreign
    Office, three at the Home Office, and four at the Northern Ireland
    Office. All these events took place in the last three years.
    The security of government laptops hit the headlines in 2000 when
    transport minister John Spellar, then armed forces minister, had his
    stolen from his home.
    A few months previously, an MI6 officer left his laptop in a taxi
    after a night's drinking in a tapas bar in Vauxhall, south London.
    Another was snatched when an MI5 officer put it down to buy a ticket
    at a station. That one was later handed back to the Ministry of
    Defence after being recovered by a newspaper.
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