MoD announces increase in data security and encryption

The Ministry of Defence (MoD), which was recently the subject of a data loss scandal involving the loss or theft of 340 laptops over a two year period, has said that it will be significantly improving the levels of security to which it subjects its data and portable devices.

A spokesperson for the MoD said that the department was aware that data loss and theft could have a negative impact on its reputation and agreed that the level of concern was growing in line with the threat posed by criminals and simple human error.

Of the 340 laptops which went off the radar between 2008 and 2010, more than 50 per cent were completely unencrypted, leading to severe criticism over the highly accessible nature of the data stored on them.

MoD permanent Secretary Sir Bill Jeffrey said that encryption levels amongst the current stock of laptops operated by the department were around 70 per cent, which is an increase of some 30 per cent compared to last year.

Sir Bill indicated that the MoD had begun to enforce a policy banning the use of unencrypted devices for the storage and transportation of data, together with an initiative to improve the manner in which the department deals with data across the board.

USB storage devices will be encrypted to allow data to be transported securely, which Sir Bill says will hopefully limit the number of incidents of data loss, in addition to increasing the sense of responsibility of employees who are tasked with using the data in their daily activities.

Training schemes introduced by the MoD to raise awareness amongst staff have been completed by 92 per cent of its employees, according to Sir Bill and this has resulted in a reduction of more than 50 per cent in the number of laptops that were lost over the past 12 months. He was keen to point out that this smaller number of lost devices were also far more likely to have been encrypted, thanks to the new policy.

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