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Theft of Defence computer equipment

MEDIA RELEASE

THE HON. JOHN MOORE, MP Minister for Defence

Monday, 4 September 2000 MIN244/00

Theft of Defence Computer Equipment

The Minister for Defence, John Moore, today said that he would be insisting on improvements to security of Defence Department computer equipment, following the theft of desktop and notebook PCs.

Over an eighteen month period from January 1999, 273 computers have been stolen or lost. Of the 55,000 desktop PCs used by 86,000 Defence personnel, this represents a loss rate of less than one-third-of-one percent (0.3%). 129 of the missing units are portable notebook PCs, which represents 1.8% of the 7,000 notebooks used across Defence.

"While I am advised that the portable computer loss rate in the private sector is much higher at between 10% and 15%, any misappropriation of Defence assets remains of serious concern," Mr Moore said.

"The matter is being thoroughly investigated by the Department and where appropriate, the police have been called in."

This afternoon, Mr Moore received updated information on the possibility that up to 14 of the missing computers contained confidential data. Investigations indicate that they contained low level material.

"As I said when asked about this today, I am awaiting more detailed information from the Department on exactly what all the missing computers contained, but the advice I have received late today indicates that there are no concerns for national security.

"As Minister, I am alarmed by the prospect of any stolen Defence computers finding their way into the public domain with confidential data on the hard drive.

"While I am advised the loss rate is considered very low by industry standards, it nevertheless represents a breakdown in the area of IT security and I am insisting on the matter being followed through.

"Internal security procedures already have been tightened," Mr Moore said.

ENDS

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