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Monday, 8 September 2014

ISO27001 and Data Protection Act

We are all aware of the importance of taking computer back up on a regular basis to allow for the recovery of data in case of computer failure or corruption. 

The ICO (Information Commissioners Office) recently levied a huge fine of £180K on the Ministry of Justice for loss of data.

The fine was for the loss of an unencrypted hard drive used for backing up data at one of HM Prisons.  This was a repeated offence in that the ICO was advised in 2011 that an unencrypted hard drive containing the sensitive data of some 16,000 prisoners and vulnerable members of the public including victims had been lost.  To prevent a recurrence the Ministry issued hard drives to be used for backup which contained encryption software to protect data on these hard drives.  

In 2013 another hard drive containing sensitive prisoner data was again lost.   Unfortunately the Prison concerned had not activated the encryption and as such the data was saved in an unencrypted format; this continued for a whole year.  It seems the encryption was not activated by default. When the disk was lost, the data was once again freely available.  This was the reason the ICO levied such a large fine.

The ICO said that government departments should be an example of best practice in handling sensitive information.  Sadly this was not the case.

The Ministry of Justice is now taking steps to train users and ensure that all hard drives used for computer backup are fully encrypted.

It is clear that organisations should ensure that those tasked with protection of data should have sufficient knowledge and skills to use appropriate levels of protection so that no data is lost or compromised. 

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