Wirral Borough Council Kicks Data Security Into Overdrive After Confidentiality Leaks

Data Leaking FaucetThere is no denying that the Internet has revolutionized the ways in which the world functions. Businesses and consumers alike have benefited from the vast tools available through the Web, and, as a result, they continue to grow increasingly dependent on this innovation. Despite the clear pros that come with solutions made possible by the power of the Internet, information technology professionals should be avoid becoming too trusting of this advancement, as it poses an array of risks in terms of data. For example, government agencies and private business dealing with especially sensitive information should tread cautiously and take the proper precautions so that they can keep their data out of the hands of unauthorized personnel.

Companies throughout the U.S. watched in shock and awe as the Target data debacle unfolded. While there is no denying that this incident was a mess for both this retailer and its affected customers, this is not the only instance when improper information security ended poorly. For example, IT professionals should look at the recent cybersecurity scandal that happened across the Atlantic so that they can learn a thing or two about improving their own information protection protocol.

U.K. incident puts data protection in spotlight
The U.K.’s Wirral Borough Council was under the microscope because it violated the government’s Data Protection Act. According to Computing, this organization took a misstep when it comes to keeping its confidential information secure. Staff members employ the Internet to carry out the council’s basic functions, including sending sensitive data about individuals to other government agencies. Although this tool benefits the organization by increasing efficiency, it has also presented a whole slew of security traps – ones into which the council has unfortunately fallen.

Last year, there were two different instances when this organization sent social services files to the wrong email address, essentially sharing extremely personal information about two families with individuals outside of the system. Among the data sent was even a report about a crime that one person had committed, and now all the specifics of that incident have been disclosed to an unrelated party. In light of these two breaches in confidentiality, the U.K.-based Information Commissioner’s Office looked into the matter to see what went wrong with regards to the organization’s data protection practices. What this firm found was shocking: The council provided no obligatory training that would equip staff members with the skills to treat sensitive data with care and ensure that it would stay within the organization.

Following this investigation, Wirral Borough Council stepped up to the plate in terms of its training measures, and it now has a mandatory program that will give employees the know-how to help them handle confidential materials. Even after the initial training that staff members receive, the council holds review sessions, keeping representatives up to speed with the latest security techniques. Additionally, the organization has implemented other safeguards to prevent any personal information from leaking. Computing explained that they have adopted tools to guarantee that documents are heading to the right address, as well as those that lock printers so that outsiders cannot access these materials.

Baby steps to eliminate breaches
All of these steps are perfect examples of the processes that IT professionals should consider implementing throughout their companies. InformationWeek stated that people need to take control of their data, and how they use it could influence policymakers responsible for establishing rules that outline how companies are supposed to handle their data. For instance, businesses and consumers should recognize that not all information is created equal, nor should it be treated in the same manner. This way, they can prioritize their security measures, tapping into the power of the Internet without putting any data in jeopardy.

The source explained that companies and individual Internet users have to establish a set of concrete guidelines for how their representatives must deal with their data. This way, they can start to shape how everyone from marketing teams to government agencies view information, creating a norm. In the end, IT professionals can promote proper data protection policies to be universally embraced by society, which may help combat both the frequency and the severity of security breaches.

CIOs.com is your place on the web for intelligent, issue driven content that helps you develop practical IT solutions and strategy.