Tag Archives: Ireland

Stats reveal impact of data loss in 2010

Research carried out by Eurostat has outlined the way in which data loss impacted businesses in 2010 and the means by which companies were negatively affected over the past 12 months.

Six per cent of businesses in Europe have been the victims of a data security breach, according to the organisation, with a majority of this attributable to malware and a portion due to direct attacks by third parties, often leveraged via malicious software.

Twelve per cent of businesses were impacted by data loss as a result of faulty hardware, although the UK fares better than many of its European contemporaries in categories like this. The failure of hardware, which causes downtime, is identified in the statistics as being twice as likely to cause data loss as a deliberate, direct attack.

While 20 per cent of businesses in Slovakia were infected with malware this year, in the UK just two per cent of firms were hit, according to the report.

In countries like Italy and Ireland most firms rely largely on superior passwords to keep their data safe and limit access, although even in particularly secure regions it is impossible to completely rule out data loss, particularly when human error is a factor.

Many experts warn about the dangers of lax security as a result of weak password choice and 2010 has seen several surveys showing just how easy it can be for cybercriminals to crack an account using brute force alone. Here the UK lags behind some of its neighbours, although it is still ahead of most eastern European nations, according to Eurostat.

Although the UK is relatively secure it is clear that data recovery requires planning for the disasters which might otherwise leave a business incapacitated and result in inevitable, costly downtime.

Relying on in-house technology which can be expensive to maintain and difficult to fix in the event of a fault, is not seen as efficient by many UK firms, resulting in a push towards cloud computing in the public and private sectors.

UK not following Ireland in mandatory data loss reporting

After pressure was put on the Irish government to enforce regulations that make the reporting of data loss incidents a requirement of all businesses, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said that it will not be taking similar action in the UK.

There is no obligation to make the ICO aware of individual cases of data loss at the present time, but the ICO has made it clear that although it is not mandatory, firms around the UK are expected to be transparent when such an event does occur.

In Ireland, the Data Protection Commissioner spoke of the possibility of implementing rules that would require the reporting of data loss involving the details of more than 100 people, adding that it is his intention to lobby the Irish government to see that these proposals become law.

The ICO said that there were already elements of the Data Protection Act that are in place to ensure that private data is properly secured and cared for. It went on to say that while it would not be seeking similar regulatory changes to those suggested by its Irish counterpart. Rather, it would continue to expect UK businesses to come forward and report data loss and security breaches if the security of customer data has been compromised.

The ICO did not rule out changes in the law that may move towards the Irish proposition, but it did say that these would have to be driven by the government and would ultimately come as a result of serious analysis and debate.

The ICO’s David Smith has not spoken about this latest story, but he has previously suggested that a review of EU rulings might come to similar conclusions as the Irish watchdog, stating that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be governed by similar rules in the near future and that a roll-out to all businesses could be on the cards if this proves to be a useful exercise.

It is clear that, for the time being, only the most serious data breaches are receiving the attention of data security regulators and although a change in the UK law is not planned, its arrival would not be entirely unexpected.

Negative press caused by data loss

According to experts, many businesses and organisations are believed to be taking the threat of data loss and the requirements of data security more seriously. This is as a result of high profile scandals involving personal information being compromised which are continually made public, engendering adverse reactions.

An Irish newspaper has published data that suggests businesses there are reacting far quicker to the threat of data loss than would be suggested by the global average. According to the Irish Times, nearly 54 per cent of companies in Ireland were in the process of strengthening their defences or initiating a data protection scheme in order to address the most common causes of data loss.

In a global survey carried out by Ernst & Young, which took on board the comments and opinions of over 1800 executives, 70 per cent of managers in the UK and Ireland expressed concerns about the security of data within their businesses. It also emerged that a growing number were considering the measures that would need to be taken in order to protect them from both internal and external attacks.

Mike Harris, speaking for Ernst & Young, said that attitudes were changing quickly around the UK as a result of more than a year of serious data loss incidences, involving hacking, laptop theft and portable storage loss. The pressure of facing the media after a security breach and the enduring effects of any scandal, are generating significant support for change and improvement within a majority of businesses.

Despite the economic downturn and a growing culture of cost-cutting, the report also found that most IT departments were retaining their current security budgets at a consistent level. This suggests that more businesses are seeing data protection as an essential commodity rather than an unnecessary luxury.

Some believe that despite the frequent occurrence of data loss, the problems facing businesses can be solved if they act on the examples set by others, both positively and negatively, to avoid the same fate.

Predictions made about rise in data loss in the current year

KPMG’s Data Loss Barometer is expecting that more people are to be affected in near future due to data loss by high profile organisations. In the previous year it was found that above 370,000 people’s personal details were lost by the Controller Auditor General’s office due to the theft of a laptop used by an officer of the organisation.

A similar case of Home Office data loss was revealed recently. The Bank of Ireland also admitted losing confidential personal data which affected 10,000 people in October 2008 following the theft of four laptops.

These incidents prove that the traditional methods of storing data using memory sticks, laptops or hard discs are no longer safe, and they can expose important data to potential bad elements in society. If you want to avoid losing your data in a similar manner it is important to opt for a data backup service which ensures data protection from thieves, hackers and technical errors.

Many commercial organisations have already started using online data backup services due to the multiple advantages that online data backup offer. If you too want to keep your data bank intact, opt for online data backup as soon as possible.

The loss of confidential data can be devastating if not prevented

In one of the most recent events of data loss, an employee from the Bank of Ireland lost a USB stick that contained personal information of around 900 customers, including details of their accounts, addresses and phone numbers. In addition to losing the memory stick, it has been revealed that the information on the stick was not encrypted. This could be devastating to account holders.

The bank claims that it has already informed those affected by the breach of data and will constantly monitor those accounts contained on the memory stick for any unusual activity. Gary Davis, the Data Protection Commissioner, admitted that this kind of loss is a cause for concern but also gave credit to the bank for acting in a responsible way by informing customers.

Data loss can be prevented if the right measures are taken. It should be made known to people that data loss prevention technology is widely available along with encryption techniques to avoid these kinds of situations. What should be remembered is that online backup systems are of immense help in securing confidential data. They help avoid the use of portable storage devices like USB memory sticks, DVDs, CDs etc. Most of the incidents of data loss are due to carelessness or neglect. Online backup and online data storage help prevent all such incidents.

Even if data is lost or damaged, immediate steps can be taken to retrieve it preventing further damage.

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