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News

Data loss report indicates the data sharing shamble continues

Software AG : 27 October, 2009  (Technical Article)
With a significant year-on-year increase in self-reported data loss incidents in the UK, government and companies need to re-think their strategies for transferring sensitive data, believes Software AG
UK CIOs admitted 356 incidents of self-reported data loss in the last year, a Freedom of Information request by business infrastructure specialist Software AG has revealed. The losses, which included vital personal details of UK citizens and Government employees, mostly occurred on portable computing devices. These included 71 lost memory sticks and CDs, 127 stolen devices (typically laptops) and 24 incidents of data lost in transit via courier services. The request also revealed 78 incidents of "data disclosed in error", often as a result of packages being misaddressed and arriving at the wrong place. Such examples demonstrate widespread failings in data sharing policy and procedures.

"The chronic problem of data loss should be in decline, and not increasing as these figures seem to indicate (356 incidents between November 2008 and September 2009 versus 190 incidents between October 2007 and November 2008). Organisations are failing to learn from previous examples. They continue to gamble with sensitive data via risky transfers rather than implementing a robust infrastructure to ensure information is moved securely," said Tim Holyoake, lead technologist at Software AG.

"Few data losses have occurred where organisations have invested in secure, electronic data transfer technologies. This begs the question, why aren't CIOs insisting on greater use of these solutions? We constantly hear people promoting systems to protect removable data, while the obvious solution of not physically transporting it in the first place is continually overlooked," Holyoake continued.

Holyoake also noted that emerging standards like BS10012 demonstrate a genuine willingness to address personal data governance issues effectively.

He argued that electronic secure data transfer technologies with audit capabilities could be a useful enabler for organisations seeking a reliable system for data sharing. The research comes on the two-year anniversary of the loss of 25 million child benefit records by HMRC.
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