Citywire for Financial Professionals
Stay connected:

View the article online at

Oops! FSA loses 20 laptops in just three years

City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority, has lost 41 laptops and Blackberries containing secure document and emails over the last three years.

Oops! FSA loses 20 laptops in just three years

City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has lost 41 laptops and Blackberries containing secure document and emails, in the past three years.

The regulator reported 10 laptops, seven Blackberries and two USB memory sticks were lost or stolen in this year alone. Staff at the financial regulator lost eight laptops and ten Blackberries in 2009 but only two laptops and two Blackberries were lost in the whole of 2008.

The FSA, which is funded entirely by the banks, financial advisers and other City institutions that it regulates, was only able to recover two of the 41 laptops, Blackberries or USBs lost or stolen from its staff in the past three years. The majority of devices were lost by FSA staff with only 11 stolen over the same period, according to a Freedom of Information request from Citywire.

It noted that all its laptops and memory sticks are encrypted while its Blackberry devices are password protected and the FSA claimed it blocked further access to secure information by remotely disabling the hardware.

Data security is a hot topic for the FSA which fined the Nationwide Building Society £980,000 in 2007 after a laptop containing the personal details of around 11 million customers was stolen from the home of an employee. Zurich Insurance was fined £2.27 million in August for the loss of computer tapes in South Africa containing the details of 46,000 customers.

An earlier Freedom of Information request revealed that the FSA had disciplined four staff in 2009 over the external loss of information.  

The scale of losses at the FSA is dwarfed by the Ministry of Defence, where 220 laptops were lost and 120 stolen in the past two years. The MoD employed around 268,000 military and civilian staff compared to the FSA which now has 3,400 employees. More seriously, less than half of the lost MoD laptops were not encrypted, according to a Freedom of Information request from technology consultants Lewis Communications.

8 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Matt Pearson

Oct 19, 2010 at 09:38

Can the FSA fine itself? Who would benefit from the fine?

report this

IFA Watcher

Oct 19, 2010 at 10:46

Authority without responsibility is a social trend these days.

When a laptop which contains sensitive data is assigned to someone, make it a condition of contract that they are are responsible for it and if lost then their job goes the same way.

report this

Jaimin Patel

Oct 19, 2010 at 11:41

If they had bluenio's then this wouldn't have happened, but it seems they'd rather loose our data than use bluetooth on their Blackberries and Laptops!! I can't believe our government is so backwards with technology!!

report this


Oct 19, 2010 at 15:11

The problem isn't just the FSA - they're just one of many companies who have to report they've lost this data type... there are thousands of companies out there who are authorised to store sensitive personal data who aren't immune from data security 'errors' - the Data Protection act is great in principal but it's enforcement is a joke...

report this

Rob Morrison

Oct 19, 2010 at 18:05

This level of carelessness is disgraceful. Management are responsible!

report this


Oct 19, 2010 at 20:20

What I really dislike is that so many companies now have overseas call centres which request a whole raft of private info "for our data protection". I recently tried to complain to Talk-talk, and went through a call centre and had to speak to about 15 different "representatives". I objected to them asking for my full name, date of birth (DOB) and address as each new person spoke to me. I suggested they only needed a few letters or part of the DOB to verify who I was. They then informed me they had this info anyway, so were only checking it. It appears that all the telephone-authorised staff had this too.

I just hope that all the staff are suitably motivated and honest that they do misuse this information, and that security is tight enough that none "escapes".

Whilst I hope I'm sure that Talk talk (even though apparently operating their call centres in overseas countries, presumably offering lower pay to their staff than here in the UK) will take adequate data protection provisions, it is small wonder that identity theft is increasings at several 10s of % every year. Many other companies operate similar call centres, so I hope they all guard the data well!!

report this


Oct 20, 2010 at 13:45

Didn't I see the MOD is to save £100m on laptops by buying directly... now that's savings.. so how many laptops do they have? & spend =??

So maybe 340 lost/stolen/strayed is, well, a small % error...

(just joking!).

And what happens to the old ones? Sounds like a high replacement rate... I bet few businesses spend that much on IT kit.

Deduct the cost from their gold plated pension.

report this


Oct 21, 2010 at 02:19

Weak article, Ok so x laptops were lost, but what percentage of laptops is this? Also if they were encrypted it is practically impossible to get anything off them.

report this

leave a comment

Please sign in here or register here to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.

News sponsored by:

The Citywire Guide to Investment Trusts

In this guide to investment trusts, produced in association with Aberdeen Asset Management, we spoke to many of the leading experts in the field to find out more.

Watch Now

Today's articles

Tools from Citywire Money

From the Forums

+ Start a new discussion

Weekly email from The Lolly

Get simple, easy ways to make more from your money. Just enter your email address below

An error occured while subscribing your email. Please try again later.

Thank you for registering for your weekly newsletter from The Lolly.

Keep an eye out for us in your inbox, and please add to your safe senders list so we don't get junked.

Sorry, this link is not
quite ready yet