Feeds

Zurich Insurance promises changes after data loss

Promises to pull socks up, won't do it again

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Zurich Insurance has promised to improve its information security after losing personal financial information on 46,000 British clients through careless handling of unencrypted backup tapes.

The back-up tape, which also contained personal details of 1,800 third party insurance claimants from the UK, was lost by Zurich's South African sister company during what was described as a routine transfer to a data storage facility in South Africa in August 2008.

In total, 51,000 British records were on the tape, along with with a much larger number of details about Zurich customers in South Africa (550,000) and Botswana (40,000). Zurich's UK arm wasn't informed about the problem until a year later.

There's no evidence that the information was subsequently used in ID theft or other scams in any country, but that's down to good luck rather than basic safeguards, which were notably absent.

The case was reported to UK privacy regulators, who extracted a promise from Zurich to improve its procedures or risk tougher action for any future data breaches.

In particular, Zurich Insurance plc pledged (pdf) to apply encryption controls on backup records and apply "controls to monitor and promptly report potential or actual data loss activity" in future.

Zurich said: "where any future movement of back-up tapes containing personal data is required, ZIP UK will ensure that appropriate data security procedures, including the use of encryption where appropriate, are in place;".

The insurance giant also promised to carry out staff training to prevent future similar breaches by improving lax backup handling procedures, as explained in a statement (pdf) on the case issued by the ICO. The company said all this had either already happened or would happen very soon.

Chris McIntosh, chief exec of data encryption expert Stonewood, said the incident illustrated the need for organisations to ensure their data security policies were "airtight at every single step in that data's lifecycle".

"This is especially important when operating in regions such as South Africa which, unfortunately, has a reputation for data theft and fraud. Indeed, the issue with this loss is not just the loss itself. It is the tardiness with which the loss was eventually reported. This has resulted in the data of a further 5,000 UK customers being threatened, thanks to deficiencies in operating procedures which caused the original loss not being addressed immediately," McIntosh added. ®

The next step in data security

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
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
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
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
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.
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.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.