Feeds

Council fined £70k after burglars nick vulnerable kids' files

Second data law breach in two years

3 Big data security analytics techniques

The UK's privacy watchdog has fined the London Borough of Barnet £70k ($111k) after the local authority lost extremely sensitive information about young children for the second time in two years.

The latest loss occurred when a social worker took paper records home to work on them out of office hours. The staffer’s home was burgled in April last year, and the thieves made off with a laptop bag containing the documents and an encrypted computer.

The papers including the names, addresses, dates of birth and "details of the sexual activities" of 15 vulnerable youngsters. A subsequent investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office found fault with procedures at Barnet Council relating to the handling of paper records. The borough's policy included guidance for staff on handling sensitive files, but the measures failed to explain how the information should be kept secure.

The fine comes after the council promised in June 2010 to improve its information handling procedures following the theft of an unencrypted device containing personal data from an employee’s home. The council eventually introduced a paper handling policy, but this was not in place at the time of the second loss - hence the ICO's decision to levy a fairly substantial fine on the public body.

Simon Entwisle, the ICO’s director of operations, commented: "The potential for damage and distress in this case is obvious. It is therefore extremely disappointing the council had not put in place sufficient measures in time to avoid this second loss."

"While we are pleased that Barnet Council has now taken action to keep the personal data they use secure, it is vitally important that organisations have the correct guidance in place to keep sensitive paper records taken outside of the office safe. This includes storing papers containing sensitive information separately from laptops," he added.

The ICO gained power to levy fines in relation to data privacy breaches that could be blamed on either lax procedures or negligence in April 2010. Since then 16 organisations including a police force, health authorities and local councils have been fined over data breaches. Two private sector firms - defunct copyright infringement ambulance-chasers ACS:Law and employment agency A4e - are also among those fined for data privacy transgressions. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.