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News

Offshore service compromises UK client data

PGP (GB) : 26 October, 2009  (Technical Article)
UK customer details lost in South Africa after Zurich UK uses offshore services for the handling of data
Insurance company Zurich UK has confirmed that a back-up tape containing the details of 51,000 UK customers was lost during a routine data transfer within South Africa in August 2008. The tape also held details of customers in South Africa and Botswana.

Zurich UK has written to all affected customers but states that there is no evidence to suggest that the data has been mis-used or compromised.

Jamie Cowper, Marketing Director EMEA at data encryption firm PGP Corporation, has said the following of the news:

"Zurich UK's customers might be surprised to hear that their data is being kept in South Africa, a country which is yet to pass the Protection of Personal Information Bill - its equivalent of the Data Protection Act. However, global trends around data outsourcing mean that confidential customer data could be held absolutely anywhere.

"Whilst Zurich has been keen to downplay any assertion that the data could be compromised, unless the tape is recovered it is impossible to be sure. Who can predict what will become of this data in a few months or even a few years' time?

"As with all data breaches - the message here must be absolutely clear. Customer data should always be protected. That means deploying proven solutions, such as encryption, to ensure that sensitive information is fully protected no matter who's hands it falls into."
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