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News

Recovered NHS laptops signal wake up call to data security

CyberArk Software : 13 October, 2009  (Technical Article)
Four laptop computers recovered using tracking systems after theft from NHS trust would have presented less risk if sensitive data hadn't needed to have been stored on them in the first place, according to Cyber-Ark
Reports that four laptops stolen from staff at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust have been recovered using a specialised tracking system is excellent news but, says Cyber-Ark, the IT security vendor, the saga should act as a wake-up call to any public sector agency that handles patient and/or employee data.

'The laptops in this case were stolen from various locations, including a car boot, an employee's home, a hotel room and even an NHS office. But the crucial question is why the staff were toting laptops that contained some degree of NHS data on them,' said Mark Fullbrook, Cyber-Ark's European director.

'If, for example, they were using secure collaborative and data sharing/storage software, such as our Inter-Business Vault, the data could have been stored centrally on a secure server, and collaboratively shared as and when required, in a highly secure manner,' he added.

Whilst this probably would not have prevented thieves stealing the laptops, as least managers would be safe in the knowledge that no patient and/or employee data had also gone walkabout.

It's interesting, he noted, that managers at the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust claim that, with large numbers of remote staff, the Trust takes a realistic approach about the theft and security issues involved.

'Yes, he explained, theft is probably inevitable where laptops are involved, but with the technology that is available today, there is absolutely no need for data to be lost as a result of those thefts,' he said.

'The days of having to store data on the laptop or netbook because of data transmission bandwidth issues are now long gone. Storing and sharing data collaboratively in a highly secure manner is clearly the way forward,' he added.
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