Following news that the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has found Rochdale Council in breach of the Data Protection Act for losing an unencrypted memory stick, online backup experts KeepItSafe have questioned whether local government organisations should be storing sensitive data on portable devices in the first place no matter whether encrypted or not.
According to reports, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council lost a memory stick containing the personal records of 18,000 residents in May 2011 the data included names and addresses, along with details of payments to and by the council.
"Rochdale Council has had its hands slapped for losing the personal data of local residents, but while the ICO is right to point out the importance of encrypting memory sticks, it's questionable whether this type of data should ever be placed on portable devices in the first place," said Eoin Blacklock, Managing Director at KeepItSafe. "The hard truth is that the number one cause of data loss is human error cybercriminals are resourceful and can often hack encryption standards once they get their hands on a device. Unless Government organisations and indeed any company handling sensitive customer information invest in a secure and encrypted way of storing their data online in multiple data centres, they can never be completely sure this information won't be compromised."
KeepItSafe also points out that USB sticks still need to be stored in a safe, fireproof location away from your computer to make them a viable backup option. Furthermore, recent technology advancements mean that companies can now outsource their data backup to a dedicated provider, storing their information on a secure server in a remote location.