Australian Information Security Management Conference

Document Type

Conference Proceeding




Wakeling, S.G., Hannay, P., & Baig, Z. (2017). A review of data breaches and losses that occurred from laptops that were stolen or otherwise misplaced in 2015 and 2016. In Valli, C. (Ed.). (2017). The Proceedings of 15th Australian Information Security Management Conference, 5-6 December, 2017, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia. (pp.97-107).


This paper provides an analysis of what information can be found on laptops that may or may not have connections to an organisation of some form, the statistics of the number of laptops stolen or otherwise misplaced in 2015 and 2016, and the number of potentially affected people from each of the cases. As seen in many news articles, laptops are often stolen or otherwise misplaced by employees or contractors in an organisational environment. As discovered in this research, many laptops are stolen from vehicles or homes of employees rather than organisation’s buildings, but not all. The majority of stolen or otherwise misplaced laptops have very little information security on them, and this increases the risk of a data breach once a third party has physical access to the device. The research finds that, with available information, only one laptop had used encryption for the personal, private and confidential information that was stored on the internal storage device. In total, this paper finds that 33 laptops were stolen or otherwise misplaced in 2015 and 2016. The healthcare industry had the largest number of potentially affected people, with 5,352,792 people, and an average of 334,350 across the 16 laptops. The government sector had the second highest impact, with a total of 1,000,865 potentially affected people. Out of the 33 laptops, the total number of potentially affected people was 6,598,995 affected people, with an average of 83,702 potentially affected people with each of the 33 laptops.