Feeds

ISA chairman assures nation: Your data is safe

Hasn't got any data, so hasn't lost any data

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Comment Fears were growing this week over the safety of ultra-sensitive personal data, as the BBC - in the shape of Jeremy Vine - finally caught up with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority, and quizzed its chairman over their security procedures.

On Monday night, Panorama took a close look at the new scheme that went live last October, to create a vetting database that will determine whether adults are allowed to work with children and vulnerable adults. This scheme will, on the government’s own figures, cost the taxpayer an additional £277 million over the next three years.

Interviewed by Jeremy Vine, former Information Commissioner Richard Thomas was cautious. He said: "With any large governmental collection of personal information, there are clear and substantial risks that the information may be inaccurate.

"There are risks the information data may be out of date. There are risks the information may be irrelevant. There are risks that it may be compromised or get into the wrong hands, and the larger the database the larger the risk."

With respect to the "soft intelligence" – essentially, hearsay and unsubstantiated allegations, he added: "We have to look at what the detriment might be if things go wrong. This can be very damaging to peoples’ careers. They might lose a job or all types of work for a very long time. It can be damaging in financial terms. This also can be very damaging in personal, social and family terms."

Roger Singleton, Chairman of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) reassured viewers by confirming that there is a very high level of security within the government’s secure information system in terms of physical safeguards.

He pointed out that the ISA has never lost any personal data, although as Jeremy Vine observed, the ISA has not yet had any data to lose.

However, the fundamental issue remains that in general, the government’s record when it comes to protecting personal data is "terrible". The data that will be held on the vetting database is also likely to be far more sensitive and far more directly damaging should it get out into the world than most other data.

Mr Singleton responded: "It's not down to me to defend the government.

"What in fact you will see is that individuals and people are careless with information and that’s how it gets lost, and so... our staff have been really very thoroughly trained on the importance of information.

"Information doesn’t leave the building either electronically or in paper form."

In other words: the main cause of data loss is carelessness. However, we should be reassured as the ISA, uniquely amongst government departments, will train its staff not to be careless.

A spokesman for the ISA later confirmed this stance, telling El Reg: "The ISA sees the security of its information as a chief priority. We have put in place robust processes to ensure the highest safety and security of our information. All staff are trained in information security and data protection. We have also created a stringent risk management process to support our safeguarding responsibilities." ®

Bootnote

As one interviewee confirmed, the Child Support Agency, a department entrusted with equally sensitive data, managed to get details wrong in approximately 2,500 cases last year.

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.