The Ministry of Defence has unveiled an alarming new report detailing multiple incidents in which confidential data has gone missing.
In 2009 the MoD said that 347 separate data losses occurred and it has now announced that in the first two months of 2010 a further 71 incidents of allegedly protected data going missing have occurred.
In a letter to parliament received on the 8th of April, the MoD said that the data loss figures for 2010 were already approaching the total figures accumulated in the whole of 2005.
Five years ago the MoD suffered 77 incidents of data loss and that figure has steadily risen over the years. 2006 saw 130 separate incidents and this spiked to over 1000 in 2008 according to Defence minister Bill Rammell.
According to Mr Rammell there are two main reasons for the huge growth in data loss incidents in 2008. The first is attributed to the fact that the MoD implemented tougher rules encouraging its members to report data losses and the second was due to a department-wide audit that took into account the portable storage devices which were previously unaccounted for.
Mr Rammell is thus indicating that basic managerial tasks had brought to light far more data loss incidents than those of which the MoD had previously been aware.
Mr Rammell also said that the high number of recent data losses is being exacerbated by inaccurate record keeping. Portable devices which have been safely destroyed by the MoD have not always been properly recorded and thus their absence is sometimes construed as a data loss when this is not in reality the case.
One of the MoD’s biggest data loss scandals occurred in late 2008 when it emerged that a removable hard drive had been lost, leaking the personal information, including financial details, of people who had applied to join one of the UK’s armed forces. A total of 1.7 million UK citizens were affected in this case. Since then the MoD has attempted to completely rework its data protection policies in order to prevent further high profile cases.