Encrypted USB stick glitch led to Council data loss

Cambridgshire reprimanded by Information Commissioner's Office

A council that used encrypted memory sticks has been handed a reprimand from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) after an employee's struggle to use the technology resulted in data being lost on an unsecured replacement drive.

According to a release put out by the ICO, Cambridgeshire County Council lost a stick containing case and meeting notes relating to least six 'vulnerable adults' in the council's care, which it reported to the organisation last November.

The highly unusual dimension to this case is that the non-encrypted memory stick had only been used after an employee "encountered problems" using the encrypted one handed out by the Council.

The nature of the problem has not been revealed but underlines the problems organisations can encounter when using potentially complex technologies such as encryption.

If passwords are forgotten, procedures need to be in place to receive a new one quickly. If the drive fails for a technical reason, staff need to have a convenient fallback that doesn't involve simply using an unsecured replacement.

"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," said the ICO's enforcement group manager, Sally Anne-Poole.

In fact the council had undertaken an internal campaign to promote the use of encryption shortly before the loss.

The Council has escaped more serious action by signing up to a public undertaking to improve procedures although it is not clear how this differs from those in place at the time of the drive's loss.

The case will probably be glossed over by companies that sell products in this field but admins will be well aware of the underlying issues. Encryption can secure data but it can be a complex and time-consuming technology to manage in real-world situations.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags storagesecurityInformation Commissioner's Office

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E Dunn

Techworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?