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Health bodies warn patients and staff after laptop thefts

Two health bodies have warned patients and staff that their confidential data is at risk after laptops were stolen from remote workers.

Dunstan Medical Centre in Bolton has confirmed that a laptop containing confidential patient data has been stolen.

News of this breach came in the same week that St Edmundsbury Borough Council admitted the loss of a laptop containing bank and National Insurance details of 1,380 people on its payroll.

Both laptops were being used by remote workers, and were lost as a result of burglaries at employee residences.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has stated that it has "clear security policies in place", while Bolton's Primary Care Trust has assured patients that the laptop was protected with "multiple password security".

It is not believed the data on either laptop was encrypted however.

Jamie Cowper, director of European marketing at data protection firm PGP, said, "It is disturbing that two organisations handling such sensitive information on a daily basis still rely on simple passwords for data security.

"For instance, in the case of Dunstan Medical Centre, the guidance issued to users was to lock laptops away when not in use - but this is ineffective when dealing with today's threats. Locks can be broken and passwords can be hacked, and so the only way to truly secure sensitive information is to protect the data itself by encrypting it."


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