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BBC staff lose 146 laptops in two years

Staff at the BBC lost 146 laptops over a two-year period to March 2010, according to Absolute Software.

The software developer asked for the data using a Freedom of Information request, and was told the lost laptops cost the organisation £219,000 – the equivalent of 1,656 colour TV licences.

The security software company also said 65 mobile phones and 17 BlackBerry devices, which in total were worth £22,000, had also been lost in the same period.

“It is shocking that any organisation could lose so much equipment, but the BBC is just one of many we’ve seen recently, proving it’s all too common. In this case, however, this technology is paid for by the licence payer and employees should be far more careful about how they handle it,” said Dave Everitt, general manager of Absolute Software

According to the BBC, 15 laptops, three mobiles and one BlackBerry were recovered and following all thefts or losses “data security breach procedures” were followed where necessary.

“The BBC takes theft very seriously and has implemented a number of measures to reduce the level of crime. The portability of laptops and phones means that in any large organisation there is an inevitable risk of theft,” a BBC spokeswoman said.

However, the BBC said all laptops, BlackBerries and other mobile devices issued by the corporation are “appropriately protected”, while most small mobile devices have a remote wipe facility.

“It’s arguable whether BBC laptops are in fact ‘appropriately’ protected – the sheer number of devices that were lost or stolen and not recovered would suggest the opposite,” Everitt continued.

“The BBC would do well to ensure they are using the technology that’s already installed in most laptops to track such stolen devices as well as smartphones and recover them, or at least render them impossible, for others to use.”

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