Sir Bill Jeffrey, permanent secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), has expressed concerns over the department's handling of data and threats to cyber security.
In a report entitled Consolidated Resource Accounts for 2009-10, Sir Jeffrey said: "In addition to the risks posed by data losses and information infrastructure, the risk presented to the department by threats to cyber security is of increasing concern."
According to the report, steps have been taken to improve personal data handling, and to prohibit the use of unencrypted data. It said that the percentage of fully encrypted laptops had risen from 27.6 per cent in 2008-09 to 70.2 per cent. However, other organisations such as the BBC, where data is arguably of a less critical nature, manage to ensure that all laptops and devices are fully encrypted.
When contacted for comment, the MoD said it was unaware of Sir Jeffrey's remarks and therefore unable to respond.
Sir Jeffrey also disclosed that the number of laptop losses at the MoD had fallen from 326 in 2008-09 to 121 in 2009-2010. In comparison the BBC, which is about a quarter of the size of the MoD, recently reported a loss of 146 laptops over two years.
Meanwhile, the US government will shortly be launching a programme called 'Perfect Citizen', which aims to protect companies and government agencies running critical services from cyber attack.
The National Security Agency will run the system, which will use sensors deployed in computer networks to detect unusual activity suggesting an impending cyber attack.