Digital Transformation

FOI request reveals data breaches are still going up

Data breach numbers show no signs of going down.

There are lots of ways to ensure sensitive data is kept safe from prying eyes – we can tell you all about the methods we provide at Dajon if you get in touch – but it seems some organisations are not making good use of them.

According to a new Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Information Commissioner’s Office by ViaSat UK, there were 730 self-reported data breaches in the UK from March 2011 to February 2012. 

However, this shot up to an incredible 1,150 by early March 2013. Correspondingly, 20 penalties were issued to the tune of£2,610,000 in 2012-2013, up from £791,000 in 2011-2012. 

Unfortunately for the taxpayer, more than £2 million of this came from the public sector – local authorities were given eight fines totalling £845,000 while the NHS got six. 

Most of it them came about as a result of human error – things like filling in the ‘CC’ box instead of the ‘BCC’ one when sending emails, for example. 

So why does there appear to be such a problem in local councils? Could it be that the government has gone too far with austerity measures and there aren’t enough staff around to be careful with data? 

Whatever the cause, some analysts pointed out that this increase in reported breaches could actually be seen as a good thing because it means more firms are admitting their mistakes and doing something about them. 

But it suggests that this could only be the tip of the iceberg in terms of breaches that aren’t being reported. 

It comes after the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said he is keen to introduce compulsory data protection audits for local councils, as it is not enough to simply keep fining them when they make mistakes that lead to data breaches. 

The Manchester Evening News also uncovered a series of errors by authorities in Greater Manchester after putting in an FOI request earlier this year.