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Wee biz sector risks wrath of UK data leak watchdog

Fines through the roof, ICO turns eye to private sector

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Businesses that fail to keep private data secure could be in trouble as the Information Commissioner's Office extends its beady eye beyond breaches in the public sector.

Bean counters at Syscap pointed out that with the ICO issuing more warning notices and ramping up its fines, small businesses in particular could be at risk as they lack controls to track ICT kit in use.

The office issued 68 warning notices in the year up to June, up by nearly half from the previous year, and issued 15 fines worth £1.8m on public institutions compared to £431,000 in the previous year.

However, the Syscap statistics-seekers reckon the ICO is starting to turn its attention to private businesses.

"Small businesses are increasingly falling foul of the ICO," said Syscap CEO Philips White in a canned statement.

"It's clear that the ICO is starting to take a much more proactive stance in penalising data lapses, so this is something that business owners need to take very seriously," he added.

The information-gatherers said that most firms had the wherewithal to secure customer information, but some businesses didn't have the money or the sense to sort out their data security.

"Budgets have been stretched since the recession, so upgrading old or out-of-date IT equipment has been put on the backburner for some time now. This has left some old or redundant systems open to data lapses," claimed White. ®

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