Backup and Storage

Information reveals Greater Manchester councils’ data loss in 2012

Several data breaches took place in Greater Manchester last year.

New figures have shown that councils in Greater Manchester could have put thousands of people at risk of fraud by losing or accidentally making public sensitive information last year.

The Manchester Evening News sent a Freedom of Information request to several local authorities and discovered many worrying incidents.

In one, the details of 5,000 housing applicants were sent out in the post by Manchester Town Hall and subsequently went missing. The city council admitted that the CD, although encrypted, contained "significant personal identifiers".

Meanwhile, Rochdale Council accidentally uploaded some of its residents’ names, addresses and dates of birth to a public website, leaving them open to theft before it realised the error and contacted the administrators to have the data taken down.

Elsewhere, a member of staff at Oldham Council dropped a sheet of paper outside its offices that featured information about someone being looked after by social services.

The organisation said training had been given to all staff on how to keep personal data safe following the breach, but it is sure to concern Britons who are already worried that hackers can access too much of their information online.

It is likely that errors such as this are being repeated all over the country, as the Information Commissioner’s Office recently revealed that it intends to meet with local authority leaders in a bid to strengthen data protection.

OutLaw reported that four councils had been served with civil monetary penalty notices in recent months, so there may be significant underlying problems in management.

Security breaches such as those mentioned above could be avoided with electronic document storage in the cloud.

Third party organisations like Dajon can take information from all kinds of companies and store it securely so there is less risk of accidental uploading to public sites.

Even old papers can be scanned and maintained electronically so staff do not need to be carrying paper around that features sensitive information.