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Where's That SECRET Laptop?

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Has anyone seen our 747 laptops? That is the question the Ministry of Defense (MoD) is asking. On Friday July 18th, 2008 the British Defense Ministry acknowledged that since 2004 they have had 658 computers stolen. If that is not bad enough, MoD revealed that 89 laptops were lost since 2004.

What is bad is that previously there were 347 laptops thought to be gone since then. If you expand the timeframe to five years, the number grows to more than 830 laptops lost or stolen. Of which nine contained information classified as top secret or secret. To date of the 747 lost or stolen laptops in the past four years only 32 had been recovered.

Has anyone seen my desktop? This is not a joke. Where is building security when people are walking out the door with desktop computers? It is not like they fit in your pocket! In the past ten years, 23 desktops had been stolen. It even gets better.

Has anyone seen my 121 USB memory sticks? That's right 121 portable USB memory sticks (thumb drives) were lost or stolen in that same period of time. Looking at the memory sticks, 26 of those lost occurred in 2008. But the picture gets a bit worse - three of the lost USB drives contained information said to be "secret" with 19 additional ones containing information said to be "restricted."

Has anyone seen my file folders? Did you know that top secret intelligence documents were recently left on a London train by a staff member of the Cabinet Office? In one instance a 46 page file that was "restricted" was taken from a car parked in a supermarket parking lot. This file outlined the army's procedures for responding to a terror attack. One report stated that it contained a list of the military's most important figures and their phone numbers as well as details of how SAS troops would be deployed.

Authorities are concerned that Britain's security may have been compromised. May have ? Duuuh - of course security was compromised. Security experts have stated that 90 per cent of stolen laptops are probably accessible within 10 minutes and many of those with more sophisticated levels of encryption can still are accessed within three hours.

While encryption of all sensitive data was ordered back in January 2007, at least one computer was lost/stolen that contained personal information about 600,000 individuals that was not encrypted. Couple that to the loss of physical documents and one would have to ask who is responsible and take immediate action against those individuals. I wonder how big this problem is in the United States?

-- Kevin Coleman

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