Rural Payments Agency data loss impact could have been minimised with software

News by Dan Raywood

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) data loss could have been avoided by not using backup tape.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) data loss could have been avoided by not using backup tape.

Ian Kilpatrick, chairman of Wick Hill, claimed that tape is a very old technology, and modern alternatives are available that do not use tape and could have avoided the problems.

A report published by Farmers Weekly last week revealed that the RPA reportedly lost tapes in May, possibly affecting the bank accounts of every farmer in England. It also revealed that the department for environment, food and rural affairs (DEFRA) was alerted to the issue immediately and said the risk posed to farmers was very low, but neither the RPA nor DEFRA attempted to inform farmers about the breach.

It was later revealed that 39 backup tapes containing confidential details went missing after they were transferred from RPA offices in Reading to Newcastle. DEFRA admitted that tapes went missing, and also later confessed that the data was not encrypted.

Kilpatrick claimed that the ‘sorry story' clearly illustrates the problem of using tape as a medium for backing-up confidential data. Tape is very vulnerable to human error.

He said: “It has to be taken off site and stored, which leads to potential loss and damage. Human error is the most common cause of difficulties with tape backup, while failure of the tape itself is another frequent problem.

“The combination of inclusive backup software, integrated local storage, data de-duplication technology, and offsite cloud-based storage leads to significantly simplified deployment, less storage space required and cost savings from increased productivity.

“Given that Government is looking to save money in the current recession, the RPA could also have cut its costs and saved on manpower by using this method of back up.”

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