Employees are ‘weakest link for data security’

Employees continue to provide the biggest threat to data security, with 83% of senior public sector managers identifying the issue as their biggest worry.

New research carried out on behalf of supplier PHS Data Solutions said that the figure compared to just 10% identifying the external threat from hackers.

The survey found that despite these worries, only 18 per cent of public sector bodies use a secure managed offsite records facilities, with 41 per cent storing data onsite and 21% relying of staff to dispose of paper documents using general waste, recycling bins and shredding machines.

“Physical records stored within public sector buildings are extremely vulnerable to being lost or misplaced by employees,” said Anthony Pearlgood, managing director at PHS Data Solutions.
“As well as the threat of fraudulent activity, internal shredding and storage can increase the risk of records being saved or destroyed incorrectly.”

Several recent security breaches in the public sector have recently been reported involving personal data being passed on to third parties electronically following Freedom of Information requests.

But the survey said the threat posed by accidental loss or deliberate misuse of physical documents and IT equipment also remains.

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, common areas for improvement needed in the public sector involve asset management around printers, faxing, laptops and removable media devices, the movement of manual records and the transfer of electronic records along with the disposal of personal data held in manual and electronic form.

Pearlgood said that electronic data should also be disposed of securely and in such a way that it cannot be reconstructed.

Colin Marrs

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