The Telegraph is reporting today huge losses of laptops, USB sticks and other equipment which contains personal and government data.
The MoD had the worst record of 11 government departments surveyed in Freedom of Information requests made by technology consultants Lewis Communications.
In total the ministries reported the loss of 518 laptops, 131 BlackBerrys or iPhones, 104 mobile devices and 932 electronic storage devices over the past two years.
Every week in the UK there reports of data losses from government databases, banks, corporate bodies and public services resulting over the past few years of literally hundreds of thousands of personal details lost.
We have no way of knowing where most of these personal details end up, but many are sold on to criminal gangs who use these details to enact identity fraud, scam banks and empty bank accounts. This can cause chaos to many innocent victims, sometimes lasting many years.
One effective way to combat such data losses and fraud is to simply change your name. Done at a minimal cost by using companies such as PDPS, you can legally change your name quickly and efficiently, and by informing the relevant authorities and financial institutions of that name change it will instantly make any criminal use of your previous details useless.
To put this into perspective the figures suggest the MoD’s record has not improved significantly since July 2008, when it admitted that 658 laptops had been stolen and 89 lost in the previous four years.
Other ministries include the Department for Transport, which said it lost or had stolen 38 laptops, 39 PDAs including BlackBerrys, 21 mobile phones and two USB memory sticks.
The Department for Work and Pensions suffered the loss of 71 laptops, 48 mobile phones and 27 BlackBerrys.
There were also significant losses reported at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where 11 laptops and 13 BlackBerrys went missing, and the Department for Education, which lost or had stolen 11 laptops, 34 BlackBerrys, one PDA and four memory sticks.
The financial implications aside, these departments deal with a great deal of your personal information, and its clear from the figures above that they are not putting the interests of you, the individual, at the forefront of their operations. Some would say that Government has been the biggest enabler of identify fraud through losses of equipment and data over the past decade.
If you want to protect your identity, don’t rely on the government departments to stop losing your details, take the steps yourself and change your name, make that stolen or lost data worthless wherever it may end up.
In the interests of transparency, I run PDPS.