Incidents related to data loss and data breaches are probably not new considering the numerous cases that have made the news during the last year. However, due to the downturn, the number of data breaches has increased and many of these have been reported by commercial firms. A total of 99 data breaches were reported to the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas in the three months before the year end.
Last year the Data Protection Act saw 376 data breaches of which commercial firms were accountable for 112 of those cases. In a statement made last week, Mr Thomas told various MPs that the fact that the ICO could not investigate private companies without their permission. However he was not the only person to express concern over the incidents.
Jonathan Bamford, assistant commissioner said that CEOs from the private sector must ensure that their companies are reducing the amount of personal data that is being collected. This is because as more information is gathered, the risk of keeping that information longer than needed and falling in the wrong hands is higher.
To avoid these things from happening, the importance of data backup has been emphasised a great deal, yet very few companies are taking heed of this issue. Correct data backup can help regain the trust of the public and provide a safe place for vital data. The best way to safeguard and protect data to is to have online data storage and online data backup facility.
Since the data loss incident where HM Revenue and Customs admitted to losing information about 25 million child benefit records, about 100 organisations have reported data breaches. Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner revealed that data breaches were reported from three different sectors. Four were from charity and voluntary agencies, twenty eight from the private sector and 62 from the public sector.
While talking about the increasing number of data breaches, Thomas said that the figures were alarming and disappointing. He also said that these incidents were unacceptable and that banks, government and other organisations needed to be more careful while dealing with personal information about people. The reported data breaches included lost and stolen memory sticks, laptops and discs – all of which were unencrypted.
All through last year, the Information Commissioner kept requesting those handling vital information to use better information protection methods like online data backups and offsite data backups. These precautions ensure that all the data is encrypted and well protected so that no damage can take place should the information get lost or stolen. Online data backups are one of the best ways to ensure business continuity and can definitely assure customers and clients that their personal information is being kept safe and secure at all times.
Data loss incidents seem to be never ending with new ones springing up almost everyday. Whether these are due to negligence, irresponsibility or the plain fact that data is not stored properly, these incidents are serious and have to be stopped. The latest incident in data loss is a missing memory stick from the Leicester City Council.
Sheila Lock, the chief executive, asked for an investigation into the matter as it contained names, dates of birth, addresses and telephone numbers of about 80 children on it. She also said the incident was unacceptable and grave. In response to this Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner said that councils need to take effective steps to protect data and reduce incidents like this because only then can public trust be built.
In order to reduce the number of incidents of data loss, organisations that hold vital information need to invest in securing data through online data backups. Remote backups are a great way to ensuring that data is kept safe no matter what happens. Online data backups store and encrypt important information which can be regularly updated without any trouble. This can ensure that the same data is available at another location in case the originals get lost, damaged or stolen.
The Information Commissionerís Office revealed recently that it was looking into 30 serious cases of data loss and breaches of contract. Incidents of data loss seem to be on the rise and can land a lot of people in trouble with severe consequences. It was made known that many companies handle the personal information of their clients carelessly and this is what is leading to incidence of data loss.
Speaking at a conference, Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner stated that the Chief Executive Officer of every company must take more responsibility to safeguard the confidential information of each client. There have been many cases in the past year of lost laptops, memory sticks and other devices that have held vital data, which fall into the breach of contract category. A stop should be put to these incidents as they can cause great inconvenience for people.
There are ways to avoid such incidents by creating an online backup for this type of information. These data backups are excellent disaster recovery solutions as they can help retrieve data at any time or place within minutes, should the data get lost or destroyed. It is important for companies to create online data backups and encrypt information as it can be helpful in the long run.
It seems as if the problem of data loss will just not be solved. In another unfortunate data loss incident, an Atos Origin employee took a USB memory stick that contained security software, passwords and technical specifications for the Department of Work and Pension website. The information on the memory stick which is essential to the Government Gateway website was found outside a pub in Cannock, Staffordshire.
Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner stated that the year has been one of numerous data breaches and data losses and insisted that companies and government bodies take extreme care of important information like the kind found on the memory stick. He went on to say that there are many companies that are unaware of the fact that their important personal information has been stolen or may be destroyed. He also emphasised the need to be more cautious with handling sensitive information.
To avoid terrible consequences of the loss of essential data, it is important to ensure that one has an offsite or online backup. This step can help get a business back on track even in case of data loss. The main purpose of using online data backup is to ensure that data can be obtained whenever it is needed without any loss.
A recent review conducted by Mark Walport, the director of the Wellcome Trust, and the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, has come up with certain pertinent suggestions regarding current personal data protection policies.
One of the main recommendations is tougher and further reaching powers for the Office of Information Commissioner to enforce relevant rules apart from more proactive leadership and greater accountability on data protection, and more protection of information online and, specifically, in the electoral register.
Walport noted in a statement:
The case for change is indeed overwhelming. The law and its framework lack clarity. The technology enabling the collection as well as sharing of large amount of personal data continues to advance. However, public confidence in how personal data is safeguarded is evaporating.
The package of recommendations is largely aimed at transforming the manner in which personal data is collected, managed, stored, used and shared. RIchard Thomas mentioned:
The risks in the new information age are very real, particularly if organisations are cavalier about sharing. The regulatory system that governs data sharing must have much more bite, and reform is now long overdue.
The ICO (Information Commissionerís Office), the UK’s independent public body, has been set up for promoting access to official information and also protect personal information through standard practice.