Glasgow council data breach could be "easily avoided"

Cryptzone and ViaSat claims local council data breach shows ICO fines are doing little to convince people to take better care of their information.

Data loss folder

The theft of two laptops containing personal information about thousands of people and businesses from local council offices in Glasgow could have been easily avoided.

This is the view of several IT security industry watchers in response to reports that laptops containing the names, addresses and bank account details of 37,835 customers were stolen from Glasgow City Council's offices last month.

Although the laptop was password-protected, it was not encrypted. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which acts as a watchdog by imposing fines on companies who lose sensitive data, was informed of the theft, according to BBC News.

The council has notified the affected parties, but Grant Taylor, UK vice president of threat mitigation software vendor Cryptzone, said the incident could have been easily avoided.

He also claimed the breach was proof that the ICO's enforcement activities are failing to keep the public sector in check.

"It seems that the penalties imposed by the ICO are doing very little to make public sector organisations change their security behaviour until they are directly affected by a data breach," Taylor says.

This is a view shared by Chris McIntosh, chief executive of the security and communications vendor ViaSat UK.

"It is imperative that all organisations have a rigorous data protection policy in place to avoid situations like this and that sensitive customer information is stored securely and encrypted," said McIntosh.

"If avoidable cases of data breaches like these continue to happen, the public sector risks substantial fines from the ICO as well as irrevocable damage to its reputation," he added.

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