Just as we wondered if government incompetence in protecting our personal data could get any worse, the Secretary of State for Defence has revealed that more than 70 of its computers have been stolen in the last year.

Speaking to MPs yesterday, Des Browne admitted that the MOD had lost 69 laptops and seven desktop PCs, many of which contained information most of us would not want falling into the wrong hands. Worst of all, it seems the bungling officials bothered to encrypt not a single jot of the data.

No more takeaways

Announcing an inquiry into the recent loss of the details of over 600,000 people considering joining the forces or already serving, Browne said that laptops would now be confined to quarters, banning staff from removing them from their offices.

He also detailed a telephone helpline and email address for "anyone concerned about the implications of the data loss." Looking more closely at the degree of incompetence on show, it becomes crystal clear that everyone in the UK should be concerned.

Like a bad joke

According to the Guardian, an MOD official claimed that leaving sensitive data unencrypted was standard procedure, as it did not have "the technology to encrypt such information."

If the government wants to hire any of us on fat seven-figure consultant salaries, we'll gladly direct them to a few websites where they can purchase sophisticated encryption software for the price of a good lunch. Until then, let's hope the enquiry forces a few inept officials to pull their heads out of the sand.