THE Scottish Government has come under fire after officials admitted a haul of laptops and smartphones issued to its staff have disappeared.
Figures reveal that a scores of expensive gadgets and storage devices – which could contain sensitive information – have either been lost or stolen.
Among items are 32 laptops and 87 smartphones which disappeared over the last three years – but were never retrieved.
Fears have now been raised over potential data leaks involving sensitive government information.
Scottish Conservative Chief Whip, Stephen Kerr MSP, said: “It is clear that the SNP must do more to ensure data security is not compromised.
“Laptops, phones, USBs, or any other device must be kept secure at all times, both to protect important data from falling into the wrong hands, and to stop taxpayers from having to foot the bill for replacements.
“More must be done to prevent loss or theft, and ensure that internal government data is regularly backed up.”
Details revealed by the Scottish Government under FOI laws reveal a total 98 electronic devices have been reported as lost since the beginning of 2019.
They includes 78 Blackberries and smartphones, 16 laptops, three storage devices and a portable router.
Locations of loss were recorded as the office and home, but the majority disappeared at “unknown locations”.
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The government said the items were “generally” reported lost between one to days after loss, but admitted there were “no reported retrievals”.
Officials also revealed a total of 27 devices had been reported stolen.
The haul includes 16 laptops, nine phones, a camera and a docking station.
The most common location listed for the thefts includes staff homes, unknown locations and government offices.
Again, there were “no reported retrievals”.
It’s understood “no staff have been formally disciplined” for having los or misplaced devices over the three-year period.
Scottish Government officials said the number of missing items was likely higher as information on mobile phones, SD cards and other gadgets “is held by local business areas”.
Since January 2019, they said, a whopping 7,895 devices including laptops and tablets had been issued centrally to their staff.
A further 5,177 mobile phones and tablets have been ordered since the same date on “central contracts”.
An ICO spokeswoman said: “Organisations need to make sure the data stored on those devices is safe.”
A Scottish Government spokesman added: “Any breaches are treated with the gravity they deserve.
“Incidents of this kind are subject to review to ensure lessons are learned and appropriate action is taken.”
“Staff are required to ensure IT equipment is moved and stored securely when out of the office. We have procedures and guidelines to keep information secure when equipment is lost or stolen.
“All Scottish Government staff are obliged to follow the data protection principles and comply with the IT Code of Conduct, as well as completing data protection training on an annual basis.”
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