NHS laptop with 8.6 million medical records missing

The NHS could be in for another data loss nightmare after a laptop goes missing.

NHS

A laptop containing 8.6 million medical records has gone missing from an NHS building in London, according to a report.

The computer was lost three weeks ago but police were only informed this week, according to The Sun.

The laptop was reportedly unencrypted and contained sensitive details on 8.63 million people. It also held records of 18 million hospital visits, operations and procedures.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) confirmed it is looking into the issue.

"Any allegation that sensitive personal information has been compromised is concerning and we will now make enquiries to establish the full facts of this alleged data breach," an ICO spokesperson told IT Pro.

Data lost did not include names, but gender, age and ethnic details were held on the laptop. Other data included details of cancer, HIV, mental illness and abortions.

The device was one of 20 that went missing from a store room at NHS North Central London. Eight have been recovered, with searches for the other 12 ongoing.

"When a machine contains highly sensitive information on literally millions of patients, not securing the data on it by any means possible isn't just careless: it's sheer negligence," said Chris McIntosh of ViaSat UK.

"The ICO has proven several times that it is willing to impose civil penalties on public sector organisations. It is to be hoped that the ICO acts swiftly and decisively to pass a strong message in this case and that, more importantly, the data on the laptop itself doesn't end up in the wrong hands."

Nick Lowe, head of sales in Western Europe for security firm Check Point, said the new case again highlighted the need for organisations to better secure their hardware.

"The scale of this potential data loss drives home just how essential it is to have mandatory, strong encryption on all sensitive, personal on laptops and portable storage devices even if those devices are stored in supposedly secure areas within buildings," Lowe said.

"Data security is still being mostly left to chance."

The NHS has come under the data security spotlight numerous times in recent years, thanks to repeated device losses.

Featured Resources

2021 Thales cloud security study

The challenges of cloud data protection and access management in a hybrid and multi cloud world

Free download

IDC agility assessment

The competitive advantage in adaptability

Free Download

Digital transformation insights from CIOs for CIOs

Transformation pilotes, co-pilots, and engineers

Free download

What ITDMs did next - and what they should be doing now

Enable continued collaboration and communication for hybrid workers

Recommended

Secretary of State retires NHS Digital and NHSX
public sector

Secretary of State retires NHS Digital and NHSX

23 Nov 2021
NHS adopts predictive AI tech from controversial startup
public sector

NHS adopts predictive AI tech from controversial startup

26 Apr 2021
NHS to digitise coronavirus testing with new Scandit deal
digital transformation

NHS to digitise coronavirus testing with new Scandit deal

8 Apr 2021
Gov 'forced into major U-turn' on NHS deal with Palantir, privacy group claims
Policy & legislation

Gov 'forced into major U-turn' on NHS deal with Palantir, privacy group claims

1 Apr 2021

Most Popular

What should you really be asking about your remote access software?
Sponsored

What should you really be asking about your remote access software?

17 Nov 2021
Microsoft seizes domains used by Chinese hacking group
cyber attacks

Microsoft seizes domains used by Chinese hacking group

7 Dec 2021
Australia film archive gets $41.9 million to digitise audiovisual heritage
digitisation

Australia film archive gets $41.9 million to digitise audiovisual heritage

6 Dec 2021