End this Whitehall IT farce

End this Whitehall IT farce

Time to edcuate public sector workers about the risks of data loss

In the past, most laptops and mobile phones were stolen with the aim of selling them on. The idea that time spent trawling through the data residing on the device might be well worth their while would have struck most thieves as very odd. Today, however, many criminals are well aware that the right kind of data has the potential to make them much better off than the snazziest of handsets or mobile PCs.

The burgeoning black market in stolen data has had more than a little help – albeit unwitting – from the public sector. Since the loss of the two Revenue & Customs discs last November, government data losses have remained in the public eye. The latest figures reveal that more than 200 government laptops have been lost or stolen since 2001.

The numerous losses show that even where security policies exist, they are still not obvious to employees and are not being applied by organisations. Public sector workers need to be re-educated about the risks of data loss, and departments should ensure the penalty for not following policy is severe.

Until these measures are put in place across the public sector, data-sharing projects such as ID cards and shared services will continue to raise a red flag over privacy