Healthcare helps data breaches soar 16%

Advocates of tougher information protection laws have received a boost in the shape of new figures showing data breaches in the UK to be firmly on the rise.

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, the number of data breaches has leapt 16% - from 1,559 in the 12 months to April 2014 to 1,814 in the following 12 months.

The healthcare sector, made up of public and private outfits, is the biggest culprit – in the first three months of this year alone, it was behind 184 of the 459 breaches reported to the ICO.

Local government is the second worst offender, as over the same three-month period it came forward about 49 incidents where potentially sensitive data it had was lost or stolen.

Councils and other regional bodies being worse than central government when it comes to keeping hold of people’s sensitive information won’t surprise lobbyist Big Brother Watch.

Using freedom of information rules, the lobbyist this month said that councils committed 4,236 data breaches between April 2011 and April 2014; equating to almost four breaches a day.

It wants prison sentences to be introduced for the most serious of data breaches – somewhat ironic, as the ICO’s latest figures show the police as among the worst offenders.

Alongside the ‘criminal records’ sector, the police are in fact the sixth biggest culprit of data breaches, having admitted to the ICO  that they committed 19 in this year’s first quarter.

Paperwork being lost or stolen is the most common incident that leads to data breaches, and is more than twice as likely to cause such breaches as an insecure web page being hacked.

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