By their very nature mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets have a high risk of loss or theft. Encryption of the data contained on the device can provide an assurance that, if this happens, the risk of unauthorised or unlawful access is significantly minimised.

Non-mobile devices, such as desktop PCs and servers, have a lower risk of loss or theft when they are stored and used in a secure location, eg, in a server room with restricted access. Although encryption is not generally used in non-mobile devices, data controllers should recognise that there is still a risk of loss or theft of a disk or the device itself (eg during a break-in). Therefore, using encryption on non-mobile devices can be beneficial especially when the physical security cannot be maintained at an appropriate level.

Example

A civil monetary penalty notice of £150,000 was served to Glasgow City Council, following the loss of two unencrypted laptops, one of which contained the personal information of 20,143 people.

The laptops were missing from the unlocked storage where they were being kept overnight.