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December 20, 2011

IT professionals admit to being careless with sensitive data

Shouldn't they know better? Over half admit to carrying unencrypted data on portable devices

By Steve Evans

USB security

Nearly one-third of IT professionals have admitted to losing portable storage devices containing personal or corporate data, according to new research.

The study, carried out by iStorage, also found that nearly all (98.6%) respondents said that data loss is a serious and growing concern. Despite this, over half (57%) admitted to carrying unencrypted sensitive information around on USB sticks, portable hard drives and optical media.

John Michael, managing director of iStorage, said the fact 32% of IT professionals owned up to losing portable media containing sensitive information was, "disappointing and alarming at the same time because our respondents should be setting a better example."

"Despite nearly all of the IT experts we questioned acknowledging data loss to be a serious and growing concern it seems many are not connecting that to their own data security procedures, with nearly a third admitting to losing a portable device containing confidential data. This is putting themselves and their organisations at risk," he added.

The results of the study should be seen as a warning for many organisations, particularly as data loss is rarely far from the headlines these days. Recently the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) took a noticeably tougher stance with public sector bodies over breaches of the Data Protection Act (DPA).

At the end of November this year, the ICO fined two Councils after they both sent sensitive information via email to the wrong recipient.

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A few days later the ICO handed out its biggest ever fine, penalising Powys County Council in Wales £130,000 for sending details of a child protection case to the wrong recipient. It was the second time this had happened at the Council, who was originally warned a fine was likely if the offence was repeated.

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