UK farmers affected by data loss

Over 13,000 dairy farmers working within the UK have become victims of data loss after a laptop containing extensive personal information was stolen.

The laptop was owned and operated by management and information organisation DairyCo and it was forcibly stolen from an employee’s car whilst it was parked away from official company premises.

The private data contained on the laptop’s hard drive has been reported to contain the identities, addresses, production quotas and landline numbers for each of the farmers who fund DairyCo via its levy system.

The theft occurred on the 9th of June and it is believed that thieves were acting purely because the opportunity to steal a laptop was presented to them, rather than in a specific attempt to steal data from DairyCo, as many other cars were targeted during the same period.

DairyCo informed the local police force of the theft as soon as it was discovered, but so far investigations into the crime have failed to result in the retrieval of the laptop and its data.

DairyCo said that it was embarrassed and humbled by the data loss and in the week after the theft it contacted every one of the 13,000 affected farmers in writing to notify them of the incident and to apologise.

It is unlikely that farmers will suffer financially after the data loss, as DairyCo has confirmed that no banking details were stored on the stolen laptop. DairyCo’s Philippa Stagg said that the organisation regrets the incident, but called on the affected farmers to remain calm.

Ms Stagg said that the data could only be valuable to firms that might be able to target the contributors to DairyCo for marketing purposes, with the likelihood of individual fraud being committed against the farmers being perceived as low.

DairyCo has said that it is looking into the policies which govern the manner in which it deals with customer data and it may make alterations in order to tighten security in the future. Some of the affected farmers have reacted angrily to the news, claiming that their businesses could be exposed as a result.

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