Survey shows that businesses do not appreciate data loss penalties

A report into the way in which businesses calculate the financial damage that will be caused by serious data loss or theft has found that most are inaccurately predicting the ultimate cost of serious security breaches.

Around 42 per cent of employees working in the City of London said that they thought the fines applicable in the event of an average data loss scandal would amount to under ten thousand pounds.

The study was authored by BlockMaster to coincide with the introduction of new Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) powers which will see the ICO out fines of up to half a million pounds. The new powers came into effect at the beginning of the month.

18 per cent of respondents went on to reveal that they had personally lost a portable storage device for which they were responsible at some point in between 2007 and 2010.

61 per cent said that losing devices such as mobile phones or laptops was only of concern because replacing them could prove to be expensive. This is said to show that the data contained within the devices is held in scant regard by those who use them, perhaps leading to the complacent treatment and resultant loss of many thousands of devices over the years.

BlockMaster’s Anders Pettersson said that he was not surprised by the results of the study, particularly in relation to the fact that most people were still unfamiliar with the new ICO powers to impose far higher fines than before.

Mr Pettersson said that the most alarming fact revealed by the survey was that the only incentive for employees to protect portable storage devices came from the perceived cost of replacing the device itself, and not because of the fines and reputational damage that could be caused if the contained data proved to be sensitive.

Many data protection experts are calling for businesses to make employees aware that the data to which they have access is inherently valuable to the organisation as a whole, and should be treated with respect.

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