Ministry of Defence: another day, another data loss

The good news – if you can call it that – was that the 2009 figure from the Ministry of Defence was down from the near 1,100 recorded in 2008.

Armed forces minister Bill Rammell, revealing the figures in the House of Commons earlier this month, said that the surge in reported incidents from 2008 is largely attributable to two factors.

"Firstly, there is an increased awareness of the need to report data loss across the department. Secondly, since the publication of the Data Handling Review and Burton Report, the MoD is now auditing its holdings of both personal data and removable media", he said.

"This has identified a number of instances where the location of data could not be verified and has therefore been reported as a possible loss – even though in many cases they may have merely been unaccounted for or incorrectly disposed of", he added.

Dave Everitt, EMEA general manager with Absolute Software, says the statistics show it is essential for organisations to know where their data is at all times, as well as managing and monitoring all devices on a daily basis, to help prevent data breaches from happening.

"Another day, another data loss reported, this time in its hundreds by the Ministry of Defence. What's most alarming about blunders such as these is that no one knows for sure which data has been lost and how the losses have occurred", he said.

"It's crucial for organisations to understand the importance of knowing where your data is at all times. It might sound obvious, but IT departments need to be managing and monitoring all devices on a daily basis", he added.

According to Everitt, organisations need to be certain they have complete visibility over who is using which device, especially as organisations are operating with greater mobility, which increases the risk of data loss.

"Getting the basics right means that if the worst happens, organisations know exactly what devices to shut down and what data is likely to be at risk", he said.

"It is the ability to then delete, track and even recover the data that will put IT back in control of its assets and save the reputation of the organisation", he added.

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