Civil servants to get data breach training

Cabinet Office review calls for government departments to get their information handling skills up to date.

The review of information security in government published yesterday by Cabinet secretary Gus O'Donnell will introducing annual training for civil servants handling sensitive data.

The measures have emerged as part of plans outlined in the review to set up a new framework that is designed to improve the rules, responsibilities and scrutiny of data handling after a series of high-profile public sector data breaches, including the loss of sensitive personal details of 25 million UK citizens by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs late last year.

The report said: "There will be mandatory training for those with access to protected personal information or involved in managing it, alongside new action to make clear that any failure to apply protective measures is a serious matter potentially leading to dismissal."

Other measures in the new framework include minimum encryption requirements, more rigorous IT systems testing, standardised data security roles in departments to establish clear levels of responsibility and data spot checks by that will be carried out by the Information Commissioner.

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The Cabinet Office review was carried out at the same time as the Poynter Review into the missing HMRC discs and the parallel Burton Review into the loss of Ministry of Defence laptops earlier this year.

Both were damning in their assessment of a systemic lack of regard or responsibility for data security handling procedures in the government departments.

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