FOI request reveals surprising number of lost laptops at BBC

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Many laptops at the BBC are going missing because their owners are not careful with them.

We were surprised to see that lost and stolen computer devices seem to be a big problem at the offices of the BBC.

A new Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that since 2010, staff at the corporation have lost 785 laptops, tablet computers and mobile phones worth more than £1 million.

Traditional laptops were most likely to go missing, with 399 misplaced at a cost of £598,500.

However, the likelihood of losing or getting gadgets stolen appears to be going up – last year, 350 devices parted company with their owners compared to 259 in 2011.

It may be that expensive equipment is being specifically targeted, as visitors will be well aware that such devices are necessary in a workplace where news and TV programmes are being made.

Although some will be replaced by staff themselves, others are owned by the BBC and so will have to be replaced using licence fee-payers’ money.

"We are very mindful that this equipment is paid for from the licence fee and we make every effort to keep theft and loss to a minimum. The BBC has implemented a number of measures to reduce the level of crime," said a spokesperson.

It isn’t just the cost of the hardware though – what about all the potentially sensitive information that is being stored on these laptops and smartphones? It could leave the BBC open to hacking if it falls into the wrong hands.

Veracode’s Tyler Shields said this increased mobility and reliance on technology does open up risks for businesses.

"To tackle this problem, it is critical that businesses ensure that all devices are protected and secure, by identifying and fixing application vulnerabilities to prevent malicious hackers from exploiting them," he warned.

It comes just weeks after we reported on comments from Sony’s VAIO Digital Business report 2013 stating that Britain is facing a ticking timebomb of data loss if its workers are not more careful with mobile devices.

At Dajon Data Management, we can help keep information safe by carrying out a tailored assessment of company requirements and then implementing them with minimal disruption. This could include document scanning so that confidential paperwork can be kept in the cloud rather than on employees’ individual laptops.
 

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