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ITA-Issue-63Enterprise Security

It couldn't happen again, could it...?

Three years on, could another ‘HMRC’ really happen? 24 months since the publication of the Poynter Report commissioned in the aftermath of the HMRC breach, and almost three years since the original misplaced discs, a similar breach couldn’t occur again, could it…?

Well the reality was, that it took just over a year… August 2008 to be precise, when Zurich Insurance South Africa lost an unencrypted back-up tape during a routine transfer to a data storage centre. As there were no proper reporting lines in place Zurich UK didn’t learn of the incident until a year later, it emerged from the subsequent FSA investigation.

Zurich UK failed to take reasonable care to ensure it had effective systems and controls to manage the risks relating to the security of customer data resulting from the outsourcing arrangement. It also failed to ensure that it had effective systems and controls to prevent the lost data being used for financial crime.

And today Zurich Insurance has 2.3 million reasons to be more vigilant with its data. But does the punishment fit the crime and are we really learning any lessons… Zurich lost 46,000 customer records, and the FSA appears to have valued them at a little under £50 each in terms of the fine imposed.

The consequences of losing confidential data on unsecure physical devices can be damaging to reputations, embarrassing to organisations or lead to chunky fines, but the consequences can be devastating for the victims, leaving their personal details unprotected against malicious fraudsters. Why, in a digital economy, are businesses and government still using old-fashioned physical means to transfer important data? Surely this is wholly negligent. After countless examples of lost tapes, laptops and USB sticks it is time that executives put a stop to this.

This incident raises a much wider debate about organisations’ overall approach to data security. It’s not simply a matter of increasing encryption rates; it’s about ensuring the reduction of scenarios where physical devices containing confidential information are moved around offsite. Organisations need to treat customer data with the same level of security as they do company cash. A bank wouldn’t take a year to notice missing money, so why is critical customer information being treated with a lower level of priority? Because organisations are too myopic or lazy to impose mandatory policies and procedures to enforce only encrypted electronic transfer for sensitive information, so sending a USB stick is the easy option. Company executives and government ministers should mandate the abolition of removable media for data transfer and move to secure electronic means instead.

Ian Jones
Head of Research & Content
The National Computing Centre

(ITadviser, Issue 63, Autumn 2010)

Download the whole issue as a PDF: ITadviser, Issue 63, Autumn 2010

Emergency Budget - the impact on SMEs - 24 Sep 2010

Nearly half of the small businesses in the Forum of Private Business are pleasantly surprised by the Budget and believe that policies announced by the Chancellor George Osborne are better than expected but 11% feel they are worse and could plunge the economy back into recession.Many entrepreneurs feel this Budget ... read more..

Facebook stands up to privacy coalition - 24 Sep 2010

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Professionals cheat IT audit! - 23 Sep 2010

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Keeping ahead of the game with IT security - 23 Sep 2010

IT security Should organisations be embracing new technologies or refraining until budget constraints are lifted? Martin Blackhurst, head of IT security at Redstone Managed Solutions, highlights the top priorities for IT security spending that organisations cant afford to miss if they are to reap the benefits of new technologies whilst ... read more..

Collaboration, not social - 23 Sep 2010

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Get around the data workaround - 23 Sep 2010

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What to ask your cloud vendor before you commit? - 23 Sep 2010

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What if the cloud never matures? - 23 Sep 2010

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Smarten up to social networking site threats - 23 Sep 2010

social networkingCyber criminals are upping their game and increasingly executing targeted attacks on enterprises. The cost of cyber crime to UK businesses has more than doubled since 2008; PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently stated it costs UK businesses 10 billion a year.The abundance of personal information available on the internet is frighteningly ... read more..

NCC Guidelines - 23 Sep 2010

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NHF gets ITs reward - 23 Sep 2010

The National Housing Federations IT department achieves accreditation to the NCCs ITDA.The Federation is the trade body for housing associations in England. It operates as a membership body, a lobbying organisation representing its 1,200 members, a conference organiser and a training supplier. Rob Green, head of ICT at the Federation, ... read more..

Future of the IT department - 23 Sep 2010

The latest NCC Members Advisory Board (MAB) in July tackled the thorny issue of the future of the IT department. With cloud computing viewed by many as a viable approach to reducing operational costs whilst maintaining service levels, will the IT department still be needed? The event was chaired by ... read more..

Can you build a career in IT - 23 Sep 2010

Amidst the 2010 GCSE results we see a worrying trend emerging for IT Whilst the number of pupils taking single sciences has surged, the overall pass rate rose again to a record 69.1%. Against a backdrop of increased pressure on university places and lobbying by business leaders to encourage the ... read more..

Converging enterprise - communications, IT and the cloud - 23 Sep 2010

convergence Vendor hype has devalued the promise of unified communications and threatens to cause confusion with the move to cloud computing. In the absence of clear and unambiguous explanations of the benefits of embarking on such projects, end users could be forgiven for thinking that these are technologies without a ... read more..

VDI - reinventing the user experience - 23 Sep 2010

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ITDA update: Busy but very effective - 23 Sep 2010

A new standard and accreditation scheme from the National Computing CentreMichael Dean meets Preston City Council, the latest organisation to achieve NCCs standard for IT departments.Preston City Councils ICT team are a busy and proud lot. The team of 27 are responsible for the end-to-end service provision for the ... read more..

Outsourcing back 'in' this year - but is it the best option? - 23 Sep 2010

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DDoS attacks - 23 Sep 2010

enterprise security Mitigating against a rapidly changing threat landscape Danny McPherson, vice president of RD at VeriSign, explores how IT managers can help prevent their websites falling victim to the growing threat of DDoS attacks. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks have become a mainstay of hackers arsenals, with ... read more..

PCI - are you ready? - 23 Sep 2010

data security complianceIts not too late to start thinking about continuous PCI compliance especially when never is not an option. Rob Warmack of Tripwire provides a strategic viewThe Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) will apply to organisations in the UK from September 30 2010. However, recent research ... read more..

Mobile security - the time has come for action - 23 Sep 2010

mobile securityThe recent Zurich fines imposed by the FSA and the inevitability of future data breach reports in the UK prompts obvious and inevitable questions: how can these things happen in the first place? How many more times will personal information be lost without anyones acknowledgement and what can be ... read more..

Turning green ambitions into a reality - 23 Sep 2010

green ITAs we head further into the second half of 2010, we seem better positioned to consider broadening our horizons to encompass corporate growth, more dynamic business strategies and importantly the companys environmental footprint. Reinforcing this trend, legislation such as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme has, for many organisations, ... read more..

Walking the tightrope between data security and access - 23 Sep 2010

enterprise securityCan data be protected and accessible? Chris McIntosh, CEO of Stonewood, poses the question and a few thoughts.Threats to data are, sadly, becoming more and more a fact of life. At the same time, organisations need to walk a fine line between responding to these threats and enabling their ... read more..

Don't get trampled in the stampede to adopt cloud computing - 06 Sep 2010

- without knowing what questions to ask your cloud vendor before you commit? The benefits of cloud computing are undeniable. Cloud technology boasts greater flexibility to quickly and easily adjust computing and storage capacity according to business need, which means improved business agility. It provides organisations with increased data storage ... read more..

Gloomy outlook for IT profession - 06 Sep 2010

Back to school for the UK today but amidst the 2010 GCSE results we see a worrying trend emerging for IT Whilst, the number of pupils taking single sciences has surged, the overall pass rate rose again to a record 69.1%. Against a backdrop of increased pressure on university places ... read more..



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