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Vacant property dates included in BBC data loss

McAfee : 11 August, 2008  (Technical Article)
The implications of the latest public data breach include home burglaries with as many as 250 families affected
The BBC has apologised to the parents of around 250 children, following the theft of a memory stick containing personal data.

The data, which included children's names, addresses, mobile phone numbers, dates of birth and details of when they, and therefore their parents, would be away on holiday, was stolen from an independent production company commissioned by the BBC to produce a new series.

As soon as the theft was discovered last month, Richard Deverell, the BBC Children’s Controller, contacted parents admitting the loss, apologising for the incident and asking parents to report anything “that gives you cause for concern.”

Greg Day, Security Analyst for McAfee commented:

“This loss of data clearly highlights an issue for businesses when sharing sensitive information with third parties. Large organisations may feel confident in their own security practices but problems can arise when information is being shared with third parties who may not have implemented sufficient security settings.

“Recent amendments to data loss law state that anyone who ‘intentionally or recklessly discloses information’ can face legal action, and unfortunately it seems that a number of businesses are still catching up with their security procedures in order to bring themselves in-line with these changes.

“This incident illustrates that these issues need to be addressed sooner rather than later, in order to avoid any further embarrassments and to protect those people whose information may be at risk.

“This loss of information would not have posed any kind of threat if the memory stick had been encrypted. As a result of weak security procedures, the stolen data has in fact provided valuable information with which to perpetrate both virtual and physical crime.

“Information such as a person's whereabouts can, to some people, seem insignificant - but to a criminal this can offer a great opportunity to target this person and their home – something that should be taken into account by anyone considering offering their Facebook status to “on holiday”.
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