Yet more data leaks in UK public services

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Jun 20, 2008

Confidential health service info exposed after theft.

Despite a wealth of recent incidents of data loss from various areas of the UK's public services, including data sent insecurely through the post, another rash of information leaks have shown that public servants still have not caught on to the fact that the personal and confidential data in their trust needs to be safeguarded.

The theft of six laptops from a hospital in Tooting, south London, exposed the personal details of 20,000 patients. Although the hardware was kept locked up, the data was not kept fully encrypted and officials have admitted that it was inappropriate to store the data on portable systems, while highlighting the likelihood that the machines would be wiped by the thieves.

The incident continues a string of similar leaks and thefts from a various government departments and public organisations, and was quickly followed by a less high-tech data security breach, when a set of secret anti-terrorist intelligence documents were left on a train (more on this in the Independent on Sunday, here). The rash of data exposures has heightened fears that plans to unify and expand information held by central government will inevitably put citizens at risk of identity theft and fraud if security measures are not properly implemented.

In a move to alleviate such fears, the UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA) has imposed a fine on a stockbroking firm for failing to adequately protect their customer data, as reported by Out-law.com here. More details of the hospital data loss is at the BBC here or in the Times here, with comment from Sophos here.

Posted on 20 June 2008 by Virus Bulletin

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