Feeds

Prison officers slam EDS data loss

Prison Data Break, tonight on EDS

Mobile application security vulnerability report

The latest unfortunate UK government data leak - the escape of details of an estimated 5,000 prison officer and admin staff after private contractor EDS mislaid a sensitive portable hard drive - has sparked a strike threat by prison workers.

As with last year's infamous child benefit data loss, the government department involved reckons that the physical media involved has been lost rather than stolen. The 500GB drive hadn't been seen since July 2007, but nobody realised this until the data was needed again early in July.

The data comprises information about workers for National Offender Management Service (NOMS), including prison officers as well as support and ancillary staffers. Information on the drive included names, dates of birth and National Insurance numbers of the affected workers, as well as less sensitive data such as invoices to suppliers.

The Prison Officers Association are angry at not being informed of the potential loss of the data earlier and are threatening to strike over the issue, Kablenet reports. "We are extremely concerned that not only has this data been lost, but that the Prison Service appear to have tried to conceal this serious breach in security," said POA spokesman Colin Moses.

"It is a breach that we believe could ultimately cost the taxpayer millions and millions of pounds, because, if the information lost is personal and sensitive, it may well mean staff having to move prisons, move homes and relocate their families."

News of the lost drive only emerged via a story in the News of the World on Sunday (7 September). Justice secretary Jack Straw, who reportedly only heard about the problem on Saturday, has ordered an inquiry.

Justice Minister David Hanson expressed anger at the loss, but tried to play down fears that leaked data might pose a risk to the safety of prison officers. Hanson told BBC Radio 5 that this was "a historical loss which I do not believe will ultimately compromise the safety and security of those who work for us".

EDS is one of five technology firms contracted to set up the controversial identity card scheme. The loss of the drive hardly inspires confidence, especially when reports suggest it lost an unencrypted disc drive in the process of shipping it between its offices.

A computer memory stick containing the details of 84,000 prison inmates was lost by a different consultancy last month.

A recent survey by data security firm Check Point found that fewer than half UK business or government department used data encryption.

"Perhaps data security will only be taken seriously when there are serious penalties for losses or breaches – as there is with company financial reporting in the US," said Nick Lowe, head of Northern Europe for Check Point.

"The Justice Minister, Michael Wills, has promised new powers and penalties against reckless misuse of data. But in the meantime data will still be lost or stolen, because companies think it can't, or won't, happen to them." ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.