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PGP comments on Bolton lap top loss

PGP (GB) : 24 September, 2007  (Technical Article)
Second medical centre laptop computer goes missing in the same week exposing further patients to the prospect of data loss and identity theft.
Dunstan Medical Centre in Bolton has confirmed that a laptop containing confidential patient data has been stolen. This breach comes in the same week that St Edmundsbury Borough Council admitted the loss of a laptop containing bank and national insurance details of 1,380 people on its payroll. Both laptops were being used by remote workers, and were lost as a result of burglaries at employee residences.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has stated that it has clear security policies in place, while Bolton's Primary Care Trust has assured patients that the laptop was protected with 'multiple password security'.

Jamie Cowper, Director of European Marketing at enterprise data protection expert PGP Corporation, has made the following comments:

'It's disturbing that two organisations handling such sensitive information on a daily basis still rely on simple passwords for data security. For instance, in the case of Dunstan Medical Centre, the guidance issued to users was to lock laptops away when not in use - but this is ineffective when dealing with today's threats. Locks can be broken and passwords can be hacked, and so the only way to truly secure sensitive information is to protect the data itself.

Organisations must understand that confidential data will end up on remote workers' laptops, however much this is officially discouraged. But if Bolton Primary Care Trust and St Edmundsbury BC had implemented an enterprise-wide encryption policy, employees could take laptops off-site with the assurance that even if their device was lost or stolen, the data would remain inaccessible.

The sooner organisations realise that the security threat has evolved, the sooner this problem can be properly addressed. It's not about protecting the hardware anymore, it's about defending the data.'
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