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News

Mobile council workers run risk of losing sensitive public data

Telindus : 09 December, 2008  (Technical Article)
Telindus survey demonstrates continuing lack of robust data protection measures at city councils particularly within the mobile user community
Ninety per cent of the UK's city councils cannot guarantee that all sensitive data held on their laptops is encrypted, according to research carried out by leading network solutions provider, Telindus. Nearly half of the councils have responded to recent data leakage incidents by reviewing or rolling out new security technologies to ensure sensitive data held on laptops is protected, 43 per cent have no immediate plans to upgrade their data protection. Ten per cent of councils can already guarantee that all sensitive data held on laptops is encrypted.

The city councils that are not upgrading their data protection technologies rely on password authentication and the diligence of staff to follow data security guidelines that state that sensitive data must NOT be transferred to laptops. However, with 92 per cent of the councils enabling their staff to connect to the council network from remote locations, these councils are running the risk of human error or malicious sabotage.

Mark Hutchinson, managing director of Telindus comments: "Data leakage is becoming more commonplace as mobile working becomes more popular and the vast majority of the public and private sector still needs to play catch-up to this latest data security risk. Resting on your laurels and relying on old security measures in a modern working environment is short-sighted and foolhardy. Encrypting data certainly helps protect data from the opportunist thief. However; there is no way of telling whether the encryption method has been compromised once in their possession. Councils must think beyond encryption when reviewing their security measures and consider installing a 'track and kill' device on all laptops."

For organisations concerned about the safety of their laptops, Telindus offers its Laptop Custodian product as part of its managed services package. The technology lets organisations track their laptops through always-on 3G communications, even when a laptop is turned off, and allows the IT department to access the device and ultimately destroy all data held on that device.

"The mobile phone industry tackled the problem of huge bills being run up on lost and stolen mobile devices by blocking the handset. The public sector needs to follow suit if it is to take control of its data leakage problem and kill the data held on laptops once the device gets into the wrong hands. The issue is much more serious; it is about the public's right to privacy and the protection against identity theft," added Hutchinson.
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