Hundreds of data security breaches analysed

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has revealed that between 2007 and 2009 over 800 incidences of serious data breaches were recorded around the UK. This information has been provided in order to raise awareness as to the dangers and prevalence of data loss and security breaches as part of Data Privacy Day.

Of the 800 plus breaches on record, around 260 have been put down to criminal activity resulting in data theft. Equally troubling is the revelation that a quarter of the breaches were caused by pure human error and staff carelessness.

Since the ICO has recently been endowed with even greater powers to punish those who do not adhere to data protection legislation, it hopes that by raising awareness of the continued growth in the number of data loss incidents it will be able to make firms take the threats more seriously. The ICO said in a statement that it wanted to make clear that it would be using its new powers without hesitation if or when they are required.

Although the figures cover a two year period, the ICO said that in a two month period leading up to the end of 2009 another 100 enterprises came forward with news of further data breaches.

David Smith, who is the deputy Information Commissioner, said that the ICO was looking to join forces with businesses which are willing to take data security and loss prevention seriously. Mr Smith also said that reporting breaches to the ICO earlier rather than later would result in more leniency if regulatory action was required.

Data Privacy Day in the UK is in its third year and it is part of a wider European Data Protection Day that has recently been held for the fourth time.

Peter Hustinx, a data protection supervisor with the EU, added that businesses would have to come to terms with the fact that they would be required to process and protect increasing volumes of personal data over the next few years.

Mr Hustinx also said that everybody has a right to privacy and that policing the strategies that protect consumers’ personal data was essential.

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