Digital Transformation

Essex County Council suffers ‘major’ security breach

Reports claim personal details of 400 care recipients were mishandled by an employee

An employee has been sacked and an investigation launched following a significant data breach at Essex County Council, This is Total Essex has reported.

The incident is said to have involved the sending of personal details regarding 400 vulnerable people to a computer outside of County Hall, with their names, addresses and financial information all exposed as a result.

And despite the council supposedly having extensive data protection measures in place, it appears that their protocols were not sufficient to prevent confidential files being incorrectly handled.

"With all the security procedures we are supposed to have now and all the millions the county council has spent on the best IT, it beggars belief that something like this can have happened," said Liberal Democrat opposition leader at the council, Councillor Mike Mackrory.

"I am frankly staggered. We need to get to the bottom of it quickly and ensure our procedures are even tighter."

According to the report, the documents that were leaked from the Adults Health and Community Wellbeing Department concerned people who are in "substantial" and "critical" need of care, leaving some of the most vulnerable local residents exposed to the risks associated with having their details fall into the wrong hands.

But in a bid to calm any fears and keep people updated on the situation, Essex County Council has moved to explain that the employee has been sacked and any threat of identity theft resulting from the incident is small.

"We do not believe there is malicious intent behind this incorrect use of data. The information involved is such that (the risk of) identity theft is minimal," it said in a statement.

As the council attempts to recover from the breach and places a greater emphasis on properly handling sensitive data, residents will be eager to see how any changes in policy provide their details with more substantial protection.