UK Home Office Data Loss Incidents Surge by 120%

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The UK’s Home Office department reported a 120% rise in data loss incidents during the financial year 2019-20.

Figures from the Home Office’s Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20 that were compiled by the think tank Parliament Street showed that there were 4204 individual incidents in 2019-20 compared to 1895 in 2018-19.

The most common type of data loss in the last financial year was inadequately protected electronic equipment, devices or paper documents from outside secured government premises, with 2404 incidents occurring in 2019-20, representing a 242% increase on the previous year.

This was followed 946 incidents of lost electronic equipment or documents from secured government premises, a rise of 552% from the 145 recorded in 2018-19.

Of the 4204 incidents recorded in 2019-20, 25 were highlighted as particularly severe and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) had to be notified. Encouragingly, this was a decrease on the 35 severe incidents that took place in the previous year. Unauthorized disclosure was the cause of 11 of the 25 severe incidents in 2019-20, and 26 out of 35 the year before.

Andy Harcup, VP sales, Absolute Software, commented: “It’s vital that key government departments like the Home Office take data security seriously. These figures indicate a myriad of losses of critical devices and data, some of which was so serious it had to reported to the regulator.

“It’s not uncommon for a missing file or laptop to fall into the wrong hands, giving hackers and cyber-criminals access to critical public data. Key to tackling this problem is the implementation of sophisticated and robust end-point security, providing IT professionals within the department with full visibility and control over their device: meaning they can freeze or access a laptop, file or device, even if it lands in the wrong hands.”

Earlier this year, the Home Office was found to have breached the GDPR 100 times in its handling of EU citizens’ data in the space of just five months.

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