Council loses USB of patient records
Worker 'had problems' using encrypted stick
Cambridgeshire County Council has had its wrist slapped for losing an unencrypted memory stick containing the details of vulnerable adults.
The unencrypted memory stick contained the personal details of at least six individuals. The stick including case notes and minutes of meetings where staff discussed the care of the at-risk individuals.
The Council had previously gone to some lengths to get workers to only use encrypted storage for such sensitive information, including asking staff to hand in unencrypted discs and running internal campaigns to promote its newly established encryption policy.
Despite the council's warnings, an unnamed member of staff went back to using unencrypted USB sticks after having problems getting an encrypted stick to work properly.
This unscrambled stick subsequently went missing, obliging the council to report the loss of the sensitive data to privacy watchdogs at the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) last November, resulting in a mild rebuke from the ICO in its judgment on the case.
In a statement, Sally Anne-Poole, enforcement group manager at the ICO, commented: “While Cambridgeshire County Council clearly recognise the importance of encrypting devices in order to keep personal data secure, this case shows that organisations need to check their data protection policies are continually followed and fully understood by staff."
Council officials reaffirmed their commitment to the tightened data security policy and promised to carry out "regular and routine monitoring" of its encryption policy to make sure staff were following the approved procedures.
Chris McIntosh, chief exec of encryption supplier Stonewood, said that the case illustrated that user education sessions need to be applied whenever security policies are tightened up or else bad old habits will simply continue under a new regime.
He said: “What is clear is that in Cambridge County Council’s case, the loss wasn’t a failure on the part of security strategy, but rather one of employee education. An organisation can have the best security technology and protocols in the world, but without an educated workforce they’re worthless." ®
... that person should be disciplined for going against the policy that was established and subsequently explained to them. In fact, seeing as they deliberately ignored policy and subsequently caused the council serious problems when they did should have resulted in a sacking.
Had problems using an ecrypted stick?
You mean she kept forgetting her password.
And the council went with the cheap option of issuing encrypted sticks (+2 points) and trusting users to make sure they used only those (-20 points).
The more expensive option would be to install software that prevents anything other than an encrypted stick from working. But it's still cheaper to pay the toothless ICO fine.
Until the ICO can mandate that the offenders take specific steps to remedy the situation, these data breaches will continue.
This is yet another nail in the coffin of all those idiot 'if you've nothing to hide you have nothing to fear' appologists for government snooping.
They can't be trusted with information - even obviously very sensitive information.
I bet some other things are true here as well...
a) The individual is still in a job
b) The individual is still handling sensitive data
c) The people affected have not been compensated to the tune of a couple of million pounds each to pay for a complete identity change
d) The council haven't reported this to the locals who pay there tax (I know this for a fact as I am one of the poor souls which this council fleeces for massive council tax payments).
I'm normally on the side of the employee
but in this case, if the published policy was to use encrypted sticks, the worker was given an encrypted stick, and was told to use the encrypted stick, but subsequently didn't merely 'because they had problems', and then did not get the problems addressed, this should be a serious disciplinary issue.
The employee should be reprimanded at the very least, and if the employment policies allow, held up in front to the rest of the work force to illustrate how important these things are. This is especially true if they are in any position of seniority.
If this is not done, the excuse will always be that 'it is an education issue', and we will see these things happening more and more.
Sack the monkey responsible. This will educate the staff quicker than anything else.
Paris because she wouldn't do anthing as dumb as this. Oh, and because we haven't seen much of her lately.