Data deletion could have saved St Albans council after data loss

News by Dan Raywood

There is a necessity for encryption but data deletion can ensure that confidential information does not reach the wrong hands.

There is a necessity for encryption but data deletion can ensure that confidential information does not reach the wrong hands.

Following the theft of a laptop from St. Albans council where the details of more than 14,000 people was lost, Stephen Midgley, vice president of Absolute Software claimed that there is a necessity for extra security measures when it comes to protecting laptops to prevent the worst from happening.

Midgley said: “It might sound like Mission Impossible, but St. Albans Council would have done well to ensure important data can self-destruct if a laptop gets stolen. Often they aren't worried about the £400 it would cost to replace a laptop, but the data held on it can cost the organisation a lot more.

“This isn't just a financial cost, it can also mean the time it will take to recreate the data or the impact on an organisation having to tell the residents that their confidential information has been compromised.”

Midgley claimed that a laptop may be in the wild for only for a few hours but the value of information on it is almost certainly greater than the value of the laptop itself, so action must be quick and decisive.

“Having a laptop stolen on a Friday and reporting it Monday morning is not an option. Employees must help their employers in this regard. The last thing councils want to do is lie awake at night wondering if sensitive information stored on a stolen laptop will come to light - whether in the criminal fraternity or even the media,” said Midgley.

Only last week, the Information Commissioner's office reported a total of 434 data breaches from organisations in the past 12 months, up from 277 the year before.

Sarah Blaney, ID theft expert from CPP, said: “All a fraudster needs is your name, address and date of birth to steal your identity to take out loans or even fraudulent bank accounts in your name. The number of national and regional government offices holding our personal data is growing. This can put us at greater risk of identity theft as the potential for security breaches and subsequently loss of personal data increases.

“ID theft is now a real concern and we are at a higher risk than ever before. Consumers need to consider their options to guard against this, such as taking out identity protection, but they should also push for change to ensure that government departments toughen up their act.”

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