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Lawyers sent to naughty step by Information Commissioner

Warning follows spate of incidents involving legal profession.

By Jimmy Nicholls

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a warning to lawyers after a spate of data incidents involving the legal profession.

Fifteen incidents were reported to the office in the last three months concerning lawyers, who are more vulnerable to fines than most because of the highly confidential nature of their work.

Information commissioner Christopher Graham said: "The number of breaches reported by barristers and solicitors may not seem that high, but given the sensitive information they handle, and the fact that it is often held in paper files rather than secured by any sort of encryption, that number is troubling.

"It is important that we sound the alarm at an early stage to make sure this problem is addressed before a barrister or solicitor is left counting the financial and reputational damage of a serious data breach."

The ICO is able to issue fines worth £500,000, with health and family information considered to be more sensitive than contact details or financial data, and thus a greater risk for firms.

However, in the two years leading up to the start of July the average fine was only £120,000, according to research conducted by CBR.

Lawyers are advised by the ICO to lock paper records away when not in use, and to encrypt digital records when transferred via email or USB.

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