We know what is lost, but how much is stolen? | Where is My Data?

There are numerous reports of “data loss” by the government, almost one every month, whether its the NHS, the MoD, or the Home Office, no government department is free from these failures.
But this is known losses, but how much is stolen without the governments knowledge?

The key thing to remember about data is that if you “steal it” nothing is missing, its not like taking jewels. So unless there are technical solutions in place to monitor and/or stop this, there is no way of knowing if data has been stolen or not.

We know that the UK Government do not have these systems in place, therefore data theft almost certainly must occur.

So how much is stolen? Well the government would like us to believe the data is highly protected and only accessed by highly competent people, but we know that the “Data Guardians” are anything but that.

While we can not say how much data is stolen, we can use some very relevant statistics to try and predict this.

The Identity Theft Centre reported in their 2007/2008 report that loss/thefts have the following break down:

  • 21% lost laptops and other digital media
  • 15.5 % theft by company employee
  • 14%, accident publishing
  • 13 % hacking
  • 11% due to subcontractor(s)

Therefore the total amount of  theft by employees is about 70% the size of the data loss (15.5% v 21%)

Therefore, its fair to assume that for  every 10 records lost by government (lost laptop or other digital media) 7 will be stolen (70%).

To put this in perspective 37 million records were reported lost in the UK in 2007, therefore its fair to assume  that round 25 million records to have been stolen. This means that 25 million records could have been deliberately stolen, mainly from the government, for the purposes of crime.

While this figure may seem high, its not as unbelievable, with survey after survey showing that people are willing to steal data.

These facts are supported by the industry belief (91% of senior technical staff  – CTO’s) that cyber crime is a major problem for their company. And the government, seems to know this as well and has created new powers and laws to try and crack down on the trade in data.

We know it occurs in theory and in practice, and both the commerical market and government agree. So what are the government doing to stop this? Not a lot

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2 Responses to “We know what is lost, but how much is stolen? | Where is My Data?”

  1. Data Theft: RAF « Data – Where is it? Says:

    […] by 585 50,000 personnel records have been stolen from the RAF, rather than the usual case of “lost data”. The theft actually took place on 17th September 2008, but has only just been reported […]

  2. Data Loss: MoD (Army) « Data – Where is it? Says:

    […] But the real concern should not be what is lost, but what is stolen. […]


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