UK councils call time on Dropbox

FOI request shows local government increasingly wary of consumer cloud services.

Data Security

The majority of local councils in the UK have either restricted access to consumer cloud storage services or blocked them all together.

According to information gained from 350 councils via a Freedom of Information (FoI) Act request by Huddle, 54 per cent of authorities have blacklisted consumer file storage services like Dropbox, while 17 per cent only permit use in certain cases.

The public sector is more tech savvy than it is often given credit for.

Nevertheless, 20 per cent of respondents said they have not blacklisted any consumer cloud storage tools.

The information delivered by the councils also showed that 83 per cent have a policy in place to cover mobile working.

However, many still rely on external storage devices such as USB sticks to facilitate this, 85 of which were lost in 2012.

Overall, the loss of council-owned hardware seems to be decreasing. In 2011, for example, 482 laptops were reported lost or stolen, with three councils admitting responsibility for losing more than 20.

This number dropped to 412 in 2012, a reduction of 15 per cent, with only one council reporting the loss of over 20 laptops, while 64 per cent did not lose any at all.

Additionally, the majority of councils take steps to secure data held on these devices, with 70 per cent saying their laptops were encrypted and three per cent saying sensitive data was never stored on them.

Only seven per cent said they could not guarantee the security of data on laptops at all.

Alastair Mitchell, CEO of Huddle, said: "It is clear from the results that the public sector is more tech savvy than it is often given credit for.

"[However], there are still a few councils failing to stop some devices and services slipping through the security net, and they need to follow the best practices others are demonstrating."

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