Warning over lack of data security

A SUBSTANTIAL number of South Yorkshire’s businesses are playing ‘Russian roulette’ with their reputations as well as risking heavy fines because of poor and inefficient data security processes, an IT specialist has warned.

Charles Kavazy, of Sheffield-based independent chartered accountants and business advisers Hawsons, said they were not learning lessons, despite fines of up to £500,000 on companies and organisations who have fallen foul of the data processing regulations.

“I think it’s largely a case of thinking it won’t happen to them but it could because, although the majority of those who have faced breach proceedings are from the public sector, the list also includes a barrister, a cosmetics retailer, a secondary school, a university and two child playgroups.

“It proves that virtually anyone can face legal action if they don’t ensure that personal and confidential data is secure.”

The biggest risks, said Mr Kavazy, include the loss of unencrypted memory sticks and laptops and losing hard copy documents containing personal information, such as the barrister who left an unlocked suitcase full of court papers on a train.

“The Information Commissioner’s Office is coming down very hard on transgressors so it is vital that local businesses take the necessary steps to ensure that they are fully compliant as far as security measures are concerned. The consequences of not doing so are extremely worrying.

“Apart from the fines, it can be disastrous for business once clients find out that you can’t be trusted with confidential information.”

He urged businesses to adopt an eight-point plan, which includes appointing a senior person as the IT security officer, providing regular staff training on IT security and implementing appropriate technological solutions to mitigate the risks.