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A laptop earlier todayTo lose one laptop is unfortunate, to lose more than that is bordering on incompetence. Proving that the expression military intelligence is a collection of words that should never be added together, Defence Secretary Des Browne has admitted today that three military laptops with personal details of up to 600,000 people have been lost.

Mr Browne also confirmed that the data contained on the laptops – including passport numbers, insurance numbers and bank details – was unencrypted.

Data protection firm PGP Corporation was quick to newsjack the announcement.

“The harsh reality of data loss continues to create more embarrassment for the Government,” said Jamie Cowper, director of marketing for EMEA at PGP.

“The fact that yet more laptops holding sensitive information have gone missing with no encryption in place is an indictment of the lack of value placed on data within many public sector organisations.

Cowper said that data security needs to be at the very top of the Government’s agenda in order to stop the same thing happening again.

“But policies, procedures and training will take time and money to implement – and in that time, laptops will continue to be lost,” he said.

“As such, organisations must make it an absolute priority to start proactively defending electronic information now.”

Cowper said that the cost of investing in enterprise data security solutions such as encryption was dwarfed by the potential cost of a data breach, as was proved by the fallout to the HMRC incident.

“But far from being a stop-gap solution, a centrally managed encryption platform would ensure that when the next laptop goes missing, citizens can rest assured that the data within remains completely inaccessible and of no use to cybercriminals,” Cowper said.